Tibet, Shakyamuni – shoulder covering

14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, brass with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Koller.

14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, brass with turquoise inlay (and cold gold on the face), private collection, photo by Koller.

Before the 15th century,  Tibetan metal sculptures normally depict the historical buddha with the right arm and shoulder bare, and only the hem of the under garments is occasionally showing. The above wears a patched robe with a richly incised hem that covers both shoulders and an undergarment tightly gathered below the breast.

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie's.

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

As from the 15th century, it is not unusual for the right shoulder to be covered but the arm remains bare.

15th-c-tibet-shakyamuni-gilt-c-a-288-cm-face

The hem of this sanghati is incised with a rice grain motif traditional in Nepal. The inner garment is loosely gathered around the right breast.

Same as before, photo by Sotheby's.

Same as before, turquoise inlay and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The turquoise-inlaid extremity of the robe over the left shoulder is a rare feature, and so are the turquoise-inlaid rosettes over the ears. Both the outer and the inner garment of this buddha have a richly incised hem.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

Another unsusual feature: one end of the sanghati covers the right shoulder in cascades of folded cloth, right down to the elbow (before being tucked under the breast as before). The lower part is loosely gathered over and under the legs.

Same as before, gilt copper, at Musée Guimet in Paris (France).

Same as before, gilt copper, at Musée Guimet in Paris (France).

Shakyamuni holds an alms bowl in his left hand. There is a small vajra sceptre in front of him. His right shoulder is tightly wrapped with part of his robe.

16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, brass, private collection, photo by Nagel.

16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, brass, private collection, photo by Nagel.

Around the 16th century, the cloth often barely covers the right shoulder.

Same as before, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

Same as before, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

As a result, it is no longer tucked under the breast.

16th-17th century circa, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, at the British Museum in London (UK).

16th-17th century circa, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, at the British Museum in London (UK).

Sometimes, the emphasis is placed on the abundant draping around the legs.

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