Jammu and Kashmir, crowned buddha

9th century circa, Jammu and Kashmir, Shakyamuni, copper, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

9th century circa, Jammu and Kashmir, Shakyamuni, copper, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

This Kashmiri masterpiece is reminiscent of earlier works made in Gilgit, with similar facial features, draping of the dhoti, lotus base and smaller kneeling figure. However, the tall crown made of three equal panels with a moon crescent and a lotus flower is specifically associated with Jammu and Kashmir. It has the usual bows and rosettes on each side, and long soft ribbons that flow downwards behind his lotus-flower earrings and past his shoulders. The flames on the back panel have a singular zig-zag shape pointed at both ends. His eyes and urna are inlaid with silver. He holds one end of his transparent garment in his left hand. The right hand does the charity mudra. The long sleeves of his v-necked upper garment have some small cuffs. There is a thin celestial scarf resting on his right arm and left knee. He has two necklaces, a short one made of large round beads and a long one made of cloth or cord and flat ornaments. As usual with Kashmiri works of that period, the ‘artichoke-leaf’ double lotus base is placed on a plain rectangular pedestal. The donor at the bottom wears a headdress that evokes earlier Gandhara sculptures of devotees.

Advertisements

Jammu and Kashmir, sitting buddha

9th-11th century, Jammu and Kashmir, historical buddha, copper alloy, at Hemis monastery in Ladakh, Huntington Archives

9th-11th century, Jammu and Kashmir, historical buddha, copper alloy, at Hemis monastery in Ladakh, Huntington Archives.

He sits on a throne decorated with lions and a Yaksha (giant supporting the sky) between them. The draping placed on the statue masks most of it but the lion throne and the style of the head and face are definitely Kashmiri. Most of the statues that are now in museums or private collections have lost their mandorla  and those that are still on the back of Kashmiri works don’t look like this one. It may have been added later or it may have been made locally. It may also be that larger statues like this one (71 cm) had different types of mandorlas.

Jammu and Kashmir, standing Padmapani

11th century, Jammu Kashmir, copper alloy, bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, at the Royal Ontario Museum

11th century, Jammu Kashmir or Himachal Pradesh, copper alloy with silver-inlaid eyes, bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, at the Royal Ontario Museum.

This  unusual Avalokiteshvara, with buddha Amitabha in his headdress and a long-stemmed lotus in his left hand, wears an incised knee-lenght dhoti decorated with lotus flowers, and a sacred thread across his chest. A  scarf hangs discreetly below his right elbow and on the other side. He has no jewellery. The piece over his left shoulder is  a leg from the antelope skin which he traditionally wears on his back. He has a fan-shaped chignon, some long strands of hair at the sides and a simple hairband with a flower at the front. The sculpture is a mixture of Kashmiri and Himachal Pradesh styles but it looks a little unfinished. His ankles form a right angle with his flat feet, the very flat lotus petals base is slanted and it rests on a squarish base which is uneven too.  The style of the dhoti and the two-piece flaming mandorla behind him correspond to the Kashmiri style but one would expect a marked navel, an urna, and, above all, some different facial features.  On the other hand, Himachal Pradesh sculptures do have a wide nose, fleshy lips, but the lower part of their mandorla is almost circular, and their dhoti is  longer and plain, or decorated with plain bands rather than with lotus flowers.

Jammu and Kashmir, infant buddha

9th century, Jammu and Kashmir, infant (historical) buddha, brass with silver and copper inlay, at the Los Angeles County Art Museum

Early 9th century, Jammu and Kashmir, infant (historical) buddha, brass with silver and copper inlay, at the Los Angeles County Art Museum

There are very few representations of the historical buddha as a child among the ancient metal sculptures of the Himalayas that are accessible to the public. The use of silver inlay for eyes and urnas and copper inlay for lips and nipples is common among Kashmir sculptures but it is more unusual to come across a silver and copper inlaid dhoti.

Jammu and Kashmir, 2 standing buddhas

9th-11th century, Jammu & Kashmir, standing historical buddha Shakyamuni, copper, at the Cleveland Museum of Art (US)

9th-11th century, Jammu & Kashmir, standing historical buddha Shakyamuni, copper alloy, from the Nagaraja collection, at the Cleveland Museum of Art (US)

This is one of the most finely crafted standing buddhas made in the Kashmir area. The delicate hands and feet, the  body proportions, the torso slightly leaning to one side, added to the exquisite facial features, all contribute to a harmonious result. His transparent garment is noticeable through the concentric lines marking the folds on the chest and the patterned hem over his ankles. He stands on the typical Kashmiri pedestal, made of a double lotus base itself resting on a squarish base.

Dating is uncertain, however, the leaning torso and the fine body proportions correspond to works made after the 8th-9th century. This leaves a span of three centuries before the region turned to the islamic faith and buddhist statues largely stopped being produced.

 

9th-11th c., Jammu Kashmir, Shakyamuni, c.a., 98 cm, Cleveland, close up

The silver inlaid eyes and urna and copper inlaid lips are common to Kashmiri works. Here we appreciate the delicate hands, the intricate folds of the robe covering both shoulders, the large size locks.

9th-11th c., Jammu Kashmir, Shakyamuni, 76 cm, Ladakh,  Hemis monastery

This statue is at Hemis monastery.

Marked knee caps are a recurrent feature on the standing figures from Jammu Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir, two similar mandorlas

11th century, Jammu Kashmir, historical buddha Shakyamuni, black schist, private collection

11th century, Jammu and Kashmir, historical buddha Shakyamuni on a lion throne, black schist, private collection

11th century circa, Kashmir, probably Jammu Kashmir, copper alloy with silver-inlaid eyes, published by Rossi&Rossi

11th century circa, classified as Kashmir, bodhisattva and buddha of the future Maitreya, copper alloy with silver-inlaid eyes, published by Rossi&Rossi

It would be interesting to find out why such different statues have a very similar halo and mandorla with U-shaped flames, rather unusual among Kashmiri works. Unfortunately, when art works are removed from their context, dating and origin are very approximate unless there is an inscription on the base that indicates when it was made and by whom or for whom etc.

Jammu and Kashmir, Maitreya

8th-9th century, Jammu  Kashmir, buddha of the future Maitreya sitting on a lion throne, brass with silver-inlaid eyes and urna

8th-9th century, Jammu Kashmir, buddha of the future Maitreya, brass with silver-inlaid eyes and urna, at the LACMA.

Maitreya is sitting on a lion throne with both legs resting on a lotus flower. The throne itself is supported by a lotus base. The small figure at the bottom is an attendant.