Kashmir, various buddhas (3)

8th century, Kashmir, Buddha with Avalokiteshvara and Maitreya, chlorite, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s , Arts d’Asie 2012.

The historical buddha, preaching, is flanked by Maitreya to his right, holding a water pot in his left hand, and Avalokiteshvara to his left, holding a long-stemmed lotus, both bodhisattvas standing on a small lotus stemming from the main stalk supporting Shakyamuni’s cushion. Each character has a nimbus with a beaded edge.

9th-10th century, Kashmir or Central Asia, Vairocana and Eight Bodhisattvas, wood with traces of polychromy, at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City (USA) (which labels it ‘Chinese, Tang Dynasty’), photo here for Buddhist Art of Kashmir and its legacies at The Rubin Museum of Art.

A portable shrine with Vairocana surrounded by bodhisattvas, two apsaras holding a canopy above his head, a kneeling monk below his throne, wrathful and peaceful characters on the side panels.

Circa 11th century, Kashmir or Kashmir school in Western Tibet, bronze with stone inlay, is or was at Cherné Monastery, photo by  Dr Chiara Bellini  .

A Kashmiri-style buddha with unusual features, such as the broad face with a stone-inlaid urna, the semi-closed eyes without silver inlay, the lacy edge of his robe covering his right shoulder.

Circa 11th century, Kashmir, Bhaisajyaguru, copper with silver eyes, is or was at the Triksé monastery in Ladakh, photo by Chiara Bellini as before.

The main buddha of medicine displays an arura fruit in the palm of his right hand while the other is cupped to support a bowl or a medicine jar, now lost. This sculpture has similarities with various works seen before and attributed to Ladakh: the facial features, especially the thin unibrow with no urna above, the long strip of cloth with pointed edges over the left shoulder and down to the breast, the piece of robe covering the right shoulder, the hem incised with a rice grain pattern,  the shape of the stepped throne and the position of the lions that support it. Outside Nepal, the use of pure copper is unusual.

Circa 11th century, Kashmir, Shakyamuni, copper, at the museum of Triksé monastery in Ladakh, photo by Chiara Bellini as above.

Kashmir, seated buddhas (8)

Unlabelled (Kashmir, Shakyamuni, brass with silver-inlaid eyes and urna), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources   

The historical buddha is seated on a double-lotus seat whose petals are like artichoke leaves with the tip upturned. This and the concentric pleats of his sanghati recall several 7th century Kashmiri works seen in previous posts yet there are quite a few different elements. For instance, the way the cloth forms a straight line across the chest and over the left shoulder, the large flat nipples (one of them showing through the transparent garment), the throne supported by two lions lying sideways and, instead of the usual yaksha, the upper part of a crowned figure who holds a skull cup containing a flaming jewel (see close up on the above link).  

7th-8th century, Kashmir (labelled ‘India’), Shakyamuni, bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold and pigments (and silver-inlaid eyes), at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

This buddha also holds a piece of his robe in front of him (rather than to the left side as was often the case on Karkota dynasty sculptures) and his skin has been painted with cold gold all over, suggesting worship in China (rather than Tibet, where only the face would be painted).

8th century, Kashmir, Fasting Buddha, ivory, at the Cleveland Museum of Art (USA).

Siddharta Gautama appears three times on this small (12 cm) yet detailed sculpture. At the centre, seated with his legs locked and his hands in the meditation gesture, naked and terribly emaciated after a long fast. On the left of the viewer, in an awkward yogic posture, his head turned away from the bowl of rice a woman below is offering him. On the other side, less emaciated now that he has given up the fast, and wearing a sanghati, indicating that he has reached enlightenment. He is seated with both legs pendant and holds a begging bowl in his left hand, his mouth wide open to take the food he has accepted from a devotee. Above him a group of demons tormenting him, a couple of yogis (probably the two hermits he converted to buddhism after his fast), and some celestial beings. Below his rocky seat, a crowd of people holding bowls, and some animals including at least one cow. See articles by David Rumsey and Washington City on the subject.

Kashmir, various buddhas (2)

7th-8th century, Kashmir, Shakyamuni, bronze with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo by Nagel, auction 103 China 2.

7th-8th century, Kashmir, five wisdom buddhas, brass, in Ladakh, photo from the Huntington Archive.

The wisdom buddhas are seated on lotuses supported by their respective mount. From left to right: a lotus supported by horses for Ratnasambhava, elephants for Akshobhya, lions for Vairocana, peacocks for Amitabha, garudas for Amoghasiddhi. Vairocana is depicted in a bodhisattva appearance, the others wear a monastic robe and no accessories, Amitabha’s garment covers both shoulders.

9th century, Kashmir, two jinas (Vairocana and Amoghasiddhi), brass, at the Matho monastery in Ladakh, photo on Nelly Rieuf

On this (now broken) set of wisdom buddhas, Vairocana, doing a gesture specific to him, is also at the centre and depicted in the same manner, while Amoghasiddhi wears a sanghati that covers his left shoulder only. They both wear tall Kashmiri-style crowns and beaded accessories with a floral motif.

8th century, Kashmir, Vairocana, brass, at the Sri Pratap Singh Museum in Srinagar (India), photo by P. Pal pl. 37 Bronzes of Kashmir, on Researchgate

Another image of Vairocana seated on a lotus supported by lions.

10th-11th century, Kashmir or Western Tibet, Vairocana, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17347.

We saw a brass figure of Manjushri with similar facial features, headdress and dhoti with stripes, labelled ’11th-12th century Himachal Pradesh’. The lotus seat with flat, elongated and pointed petals also differs from Kashmiri prototypes and may denote the work of a Kashmiri artist in Western Tibet (see  HAR).


Kashmir, various buddhas

8th century, Kashmir, buddha (Shakyamuni) with attendant bodhisattvas, ivory and traces of pigment, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (USA).

Flanked by two attendants, the historical buddha is seated on a cushion, his (missing) hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma’, his eyes almost closed. He wears a finely pleated sanghati covering one shoulder only, highlighting unusually broad shoulders. Another singular feature is the absence of elongated earlobes.

10th-11th century, Kashmir, Shakyamuni (labelled bodhisattva), copper alloy, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

This enigmatic figure, on the other hand, has large ears that frame his small oval face once painted with cold gold. He does the fear-allaying gesture with the right hand and holds a blue lotus in the other. The only bodhisattva associated with a blue lotus who may have a buddha appearance is Maitreya, normally identified by a stupa in his headdress. The flaming arch behind him is topped with a crescent moon+sun disc+nada finial, a symbol also seen on hand-held stupas.

Undated, Kashmir, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, at the Carlotta Museum in Stockholm (Sweden).

This dark bronze portrays Shakyamuni seated on a Swat Valley style lotus base, his right hand suspended in the air, as if resting on something once attached to the front of the plinth, like another undated Kashmir sculpture published previously (see detail below).

It is interesting to note that whereas the gesture of ‘calling Earth to witness’ is the most common one in Tibetan bronze/brass sculptures of Shakyamuni, out of all the Kashmiri ones published in this blog, ranging from the 7th to the 11th century, only two of them did this gesture.

Kashmir, Vajrasattva (2)

10th century circa, Kashmir, Vajrasattva, bronze, private collection, photo by Nagel.

Vajrasattva holds an upright vajra sceptre in his right hand and an upturned bell in the other, against his hip. Behind him, a highly original trilobate mandorla, with the halo considerably taller than the lower parts and incised with scrolling flames. This rare item displays elements associated with Western Tibetan works, such as the tripartite crown with exaggeratedly large bows incised  with a small pattern also used on the scarf, belt, necklace and inner edge of the halo.

Kashmir, buddha on lion throne (3)

7th-8th century, Kashmir, Shakyamuni, brass with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Bonhams tell us that this sculpture was acquired in Gyantse during the Younghusband expedition, the traces of cold gold on the face and blue pigment on the hair confirm that it was once worshipped in Tibet.

Nevertheless, the facial features alone are enough to identify the piece as being the work of a Kashmiri artist.

Shakyamuni sits on a cushion over a throne (covered with a tasselled cloth also seen in Gilgit and the Swat Valley) supported by two lions; two devotees, probably the donors, are kneeling at each corner of the base. He holds a piece of his robe in his left hand and does the gesture of generosity with the other.

8th century, Kashmir, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, at the Palace Museum in Beijing.

The Kashmiri lion throne often includes a yaksha at the centre.

Kashmir, crowned buddhas (2)

12th century or later, Western Tibet or Kashmir, Maitreya (Shakyamuni?), bronze, private collection, published on http://www.bukowskis.com

This dark copper alloy looks like a mixture of two sculptures made several centuries earlier and reproduced below for ease of comparison. The deity, more likely Shakyamuni, is seated on a plain cushion on top of a lion throne with a Yaksha at the centre and mythical creatures at the corners. He holds a piece of his robe in his left hand and does the fear-allaying gesture with the other. The eyes seem to have been inlaid with silver, but not the urna. He wears a transparent robe with a V-shaped line of tassels and medallions above that line, a tripartite crown reminiscent of the Nepalese transitional period, with bows, rosettes, ribbons, crescent moon+floral adornments, matching earrings, a short beaded necklace.

7th century, Kashmir, buddha Shakyamuni, brass with silver inlaid eyes, private collection

7th-8th century, Kashmir, Karkota Dynasty, buddha Shakyamuni, brass, at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

We have also seen a 9th-10th century brass buddha from Kashmir with similar garments, headdress and accessories. In all cases, the earlier figures have a silver-inlaid urna, and evident wear and tear at the bottom of the base.

8th century circa, Kashmir, Shakyamuni, brass with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This masterpiece is not dissimilar in quality and style to the 7th century sculpture above. There is no beading on the throne and the figures at each corner are kneeling devotees, probably the donors. His robe has thicker pleats and there are a few medallions above the V-shaped border.

The exquisiteness of the facial features is typical of early Kashmiri works and recalls an 8th century Maitreya published previously, with the same type of crown, bows, rosettes and zig-zag shaped ribbons. The lips are inlaid with copper.