India, Trailokyavijaya

7th century, India, Trailokyavijaya, bronze, at the Ohio State University, published in the Huntington Archives.

7th century, India, Trailokyavijaya, bronze, at the Ohio State University, published in the Huntington Archives.

This rare sculpture depicts Trailokyavijaya with 4 heads and 8 hands. Each face has 3 eyes and displays a different feeling (amorous fury, disgust, anger, grace). His thick wavy hair is gathered in a conical chignon topped with a finial, an effigy of a buddha at the front. He wears jewellery, a garland of buddhas and a tiger skin loin cloth. His main hands are crossed over his heart to display the vajra humkara mudra. The others hands, most of them broken, would have held a sword, a thunderbolt, a bow, an arrow, a bell, and possibly a noose and/or a disc. He treads on Shiva and Parvati on a lotus over a pedestal covered with a cloth and decorated wit four elephants.

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India, an exceptional Maitreya

7th century, Northeast India, Nalanda, Maitreya, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie's.

7th century, Northeast India, Nalanda, Maitreya, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This rare and beautiful work depicts Maitreya in his bodhisattva appearance, standing with his right hand in the gesture of supreme generosity, the other holding the stem of a (broken) lotus.

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He wears an incised ankle-length dhoti held in place with a chain belt decorated with a floral pendant and a buckle with a motif that matches the symbol embossed on the palm of his right hand. There is a tightly fitted sash across his chest and a sacred thread. He wears a necklace, bangles, and floral armbands (placed higher up than normal).

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His hair is tied up, except for some long tresses that fall over his shoulders, and adorned with a foliate crown with a stupa (his main attribute) on the front panel. He has a tear-shaped urna and a prominent lower lip. The treatment of the eyes is specific to Indian artists.

 

India, Post-Gupta buddhas

6th century circa, Northwest India, Shakyamuni, brass with pigments, is or was at the Potala in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

6th century circa, Northwest India, Shakyamuni, brass with pigments, is or was at the Potala in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The treatment of the body doesn’t vary much from the Gupta style but the pleating of the robe is more noticeable and abundant, and the lower part follows a different pattern.

Same as before

Same as before.

In both cases, Shakyamuni displays a symbol, likely to be a dharma wheel, in the palm of his right hand.

7th century circa, India, Shakyamuni, bronze, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

7th century circa, India, Shakyamuni, bronze, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

During the Gupta period, Shakyamuni nearly always wore a robe that covered both shoulders, and his face was more elongated. This buddha has a roundish face and his robe covers the left shoulder only.

8th century circa, India, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, private collection, published by Rossi & Rossi.

8th century circa, India, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, private collection, published by Rossi & Rossi.

This buddha has a rather stiff stance and disproportionate arms, he wears a diaphanous robe that covers both shoulders and reveals the wavy waistline of his undergarment.

7th-8th century, India, Bihar, bronze, at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (UK).

7th-8th century, India, Bihar, copper, at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (UK).

This larger than life (225 cm) copper sculpture was found at Sultanganj during the construction of a railway. Compared with the Gupta style, he has longer legs and a thicker waist, and his left wrist is at a right angle.

India, 7th c. Maitreya

7th century, India, buddha of the future Maitreya, copper alloy, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA)

7th century, India, buddha of the future Maitreya, copper alloy, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA)

This early sculpture, from the Gupta period, represents Maitreya with his usual attributes, a pot of water in one hand and a stupa in his headdress, with the right hand  palm outwards, standing on a very low lotus pedestal. Here, Maitreya is wearing an incised dhoti that is  wrapped around his waist in the manner of a skirt, a style that will reappear in the Himalayas several centuries later.

The striking and uncommon cascade of locks on each side of his head is very similar to those of another sculpture from the ancient Tibetan kingdom of Himachal Pradesh, now in India, already published on this blog, and which the Ashmolean Museum situates in the 7th or 8th century.

Another uncommon feature is he halo, with only three flames, at the back of his head. Apart from that, the body shape and proportions are typical of the Gupta period (short torso, sturdy thighs, slight inclination of the waist, oversized hands).