Mongolia, a few portraits (5)

17th century (Mongolia?), Padmasambhava, zitan wood (red sandalwood) with gilding and lacquer, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s .

A rare wooden image of ‘Guru Rimpoche’, holding a vajra sceptre pointing to his heart and a skull cup traditionally containing nectar, jewels and a long-life vase, topped with a lotus flower in this case. His lotus hat  is topped with a half-vajra and a (missing) vulture feather. The multiple layers of lobed petals on the lotus base is a recurrent design in Mongolia and Bhutan.

17th-18th century (or later?), Mongolia, Padmasambhava, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on  Arman Antiques  .

As a layman, he always has both arms covered and usually wears a cloud-shaped cape over his shoulders.

16th-17th century, Mongolia, Atisha, gilt bronze (copper alloy), at the British Museum (London, UK).

The Indian scholar is nearly always depicted with his hands in the teaching gesture (‘turning the wheel of dharma‘). He wears a pointed hat with long lappets and monastic garments that leave the right arm bare. The lotuses that were once fastened to his arms probably supported a stupa and a vase.

18th century, Mongolia, Tsongkapa, gilt metal, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

Je Tsongkhapa is represented as a deified lama, holding the stem of lotuses that support the hilt of a sword and a manuscript. He wears fine Chinese silk garments and sits on a Yongle-style lotus base.

18th century, Mongolia, Je Tsongkhapa, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Kapoor Galleries .

18th century, Mongolia, Tsongkhapa, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Bukowskis.

 

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Mongolia, teachers (2)

17th-18th century, Mongolia, lama, gilt bronze, at The British Museum (London, UK).

A classic portrait sculpture of a Tibetan teacher dressed in full monastic garb, holding a manuscript in his left hand, the right one raised in the gesture of debate. His soft silk garments are incised with a floral motif throughout.

18th century, Mongolia, lama, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 105 China 1.

This lama with a vase of longevity in his hands is seated on a cushion atop an oval lotus base with overlapping scallop-shaped petals alternating with fanning stamens on the upper row and more stamens at the top – a design typical of Mongolia.

His thick meditation cloak has an engraved border and falls onto the base in a cascade of soft pleats.

18th century, Mongolia, Gelugpa lama, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Cloudswood

Coiffed with the red pandita hat of the gelugpas and seated on two cushions covered with a blanket, this one holds a small object between his hands – possibly a jewel.

18th century, Mongolia, gelugpa lama, gilt bronze, Zanabazar style, private collection, photo on HAR

An enigmatic figure with high cheekbones and a thin moustache, holding a vase of longevity in both hands.

Mongolia, various buddhas (7)

Unlabelled (probably 17th century, Mongolia, gilt copper alloy with pigments), Akshobhya, private collection, photo on HAR .

This remarkable sculpture may be have been made by Zanabazar himself. The shape of the facial features and the way they are painted, the intricate necklace and the delicate hands are very reminiscent of his personal style. Akshobhya is seated on a single lotus with various layers of scalloped petals going upwards, alternating with stamens on the upper one.

18th century, Mongolia, Askhobhya, gilt metal, private collection, photo on HAR

Akshobhya in his buddha appearance, holding a large upright vajra sceptre in his left hand.

18th century, Mongolia, Amitayus, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Florence Number Nine

Amitayus, seated on a tall double-lotus base, a vase of longevity in both hands, adorned with a five-leaf crown, beaded jewellery and a thin scarf, his tight-fitting lower garment decorated with a floral border.

18th century, Mongolia, Amitayus, gilt metal, at the Imperial Palace Museum in Beijing (China), photo HAR

18th century, Mongolia, Amitayus, gilt bronze inlaid with stones (or glass replacement?), at the Art Institute of Chicago (USA).

An entirely different version, with Chinese-style topknot, festooned tiara and loosely draped lower garment made of fine silk with an embroidered pattern and border. His bracelets and necklace match the dainty floral earrings, the armbands and anklets are reminiscent of late Nepalese works. The broad sash drawn tightly across the chest, most unusual in Mongolia, is decorated with incised scrolling vegetation.

18th century, Inner Mongolia, Dolonnor, Amitayus, gilt bronze with cold gold and pigment, photo by Nagel, sale 105 China 1.

Mongolia, a few wrathful entities (2)

18th century, Mongolia, Vajrapani, gilt metal, Zanabazar style, private collection, photo on HAR

Wrathful Vajrapani wields a vajra sceptre in his right hand and does a gesture to ward off evil with his left hand while holding a lasso (missing here). His tiger skin loin cloth is knotted at the front and the head of the animal is placed over his bent knee in the Tibetan fashion. He is adorned with princely accessory, and a long snake knotted at the front acts as a sacred cord.

18th century, Mongolia, Vajrapani, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Live auctioneers

His flaming mitre-like hair is tied with a snake.

18th century, Mongolia, Hayagriva, copper alloy cast and repoussé, with gilding and polychromy, private collection, photo on Tajan

In his ‘Secret Accomplishment’ form, Red Hayagriva (with a red body on paintings) has three heads, each with three eyes, bared fangs, a horse’s head and a skull crown, six arms, six or eight legs trampling on nagas. He wears a  tiger skin loin cloth, an elephant and a human hide over his back (we can see the animal’s paws along his torso and a human hand on his left shoulder), a sacred cord made of human hair. The above has a necklace (rather than a garland) of severed heads around his neck and a cross-belt with a wheel of dharma over his belly. His bushy eyebrows, beard, third eyes and Mongolian-style flaming hair are dyed with vermilion powder.

Unlabelled (circa 18th century, gilt copper alloy with pigments), Mongolia, Begtse Chen, private collection, item 23167 on HAR.

Clad in armour and felt boots, Begtse Chen is identified by the scorpion-shaped hilt of a now  broken sword together with the horse and human victim under his feet. His left hand would have held a human heart, now missing.

Undated (18th or 19th century?), Mongolia, Black Jambhala, gilt metal (with pigments), photo on HAR .

Black Jambhala, naked and adorned with snakes, a mongoose in his left hand and a skull cup in the other. The male victim under his foot holds a bag of jewels in his left hand (and a snake in the other?).

Mongolia, bodhisattvas (2)

18th century, Mongolia, Manjushri, gilt metal, Zanabazar style, private collection, photo on HAR

White Manjushri, holding the stem of lotuses that support his sword and manuscript, seated on a tall lotus base with broad petals not quite facing each other and a row of stamens at the top, his chignon topped with a flaming jewel. Apart from the bulky shorter necklace this harmonious sculpture is representative of the Zanabazar style.

18th century, Mongolia, Manjushri, gilt metal, at the Imperial Palace Museum in Beijing (China), photo on HAR .

Manjushri wielding a sword in his right hand, the left hand doing the gesture of debate and holding the stem of a lotus that supports his book. His facial features, painted with cold gold and pigments, and his delicate belt and jewellery are typical of the Zanabazar style but his garment, however, is draped loosely over his legs and has a much smaller embroidered hem.

18th century, Mongolia, Manjushri, gilt metal, private collection, photo on HAR .

The same form of Manjushri, seated on a round lotus complete with stamens, supported by a narrow plinth.

18th century, Mongolia, 11-head Avalokiteshvara, gilt metal, private collection, photo on HAR

Avalokiteshvara in his eleven-head and eight-arm form, standing on another type of round lotus base (the pedestal below is probably unrelated), this time with various layers of overlapping scallop-shaped petals going upwards.

18th century, Mongolia. Manjushri, gilt bronze with stones and pigment, private collection, photo on  Sotheby’s

The ritual water pot on the lotus next to his right shoulder and the gesture of debate he does with his right hand correspond to Maitreya when standing, yet the book on the other lotus is associated with Manjushri. Possibly made in the Dolonnor area, this Chinese-style sculpture includes repoussé elements such as the scarf with serpentine ends at ankle level and the lotuses with multiple scrolling leaves. Unlike Zanabar-style works, the petals on the single lotus base are swollen and going downwards.

Mongolia, Shakyamuni (5)

18th century, Mongolia, Buddha, gilt bronze (with cold gold and pigments), school of Zanabazar, private collection, photo on GG-ART

The historical buddha (identified by dharma wheels on the sole of his feet?) holding an alms bowl, seated on a single-lotus base with four layers of broad petals overlapping and stamens clearly showing at the top. We will note the large border with an incised motif on his garment, typical of the Zanabazar style.

18th century, Mongolia, Buddha, gilt bronze, school of Zanabazar, private collection, photo on gg-art as above.

The tall lotus base with a stepped plinth and two lotuses facing each other was very popular with followers of Zanabazar during the 18th century.

18th century, Mongolia, Buddha, gilt bronze, school of Zanabazar, private collection, photo on gg-art as above.

Shakyamuni calling Earth to witness his enlightenment, his left hand held in the gesture of meditation, seated on an unusual lotus base with thick beading at the top and at the bottom, two rows of short plum petals facing each other, a broad frieze with a geometrical motif.

18th century, Mongolia, Buddha, gilt bronze, school of Zanabazar, private collection, photo on GG-ART  

Yet another kind of seat typical of the Zanabazar style, consisting in a round lotus with broad petals (always upwards and with a row of clearly visible stamens at the top), in this case with curled tips and an incised edge, supported by a narrow plinth. 

18th century, Mongolia, Buddha, gilt bronze, school of Zanabazar, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 105 China 1.

The large lotus print on the border of this buddha’s garment is repeated on the plinth.

18th century, Mongolia, Buddha, gilt bronze with cold gold, school of Zanabazar, private collection, photo by Galerie Zacke.

On occasions the cloth folded like a swallow tail over the buddha’s left shoulder is much longer on one side and comes very low down across the chest. We will note the Tibetan-style square facial features, the exaggeratedly broad shoulders, and the plinth with a stippled geometrical pattern plus a chased scrolling vine motif.

Mongolia, a few female entities (2)

17th-18th century, Mongolia, Tara, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on igavel

Green Tara is seated on a Zanabazar-style lotus base, her right foot on a lotus fixed to the stepped plinth, her left hand holding the stem of a lotus, the other held in the gesture of supreme generosity. The style of her jewellery is also typical of the Zanabazar school. We have seen a few similar sculptures with the same two-tier chignon decorated with an effigy of Amitabha at the front and the same low tiara made of five round lotus buds.

18th century, Mongolia, Tara, partly gilt metal (probably copper repoussé), private collection, photo on ArmanAntiques

The Dolonnor style is quite different. Figures are usually made following the quicker and cheaper repoussé method, they are parcel-gilt and some of the accessories are detachable. This Green Tara has her hair drawn in a topknot, she wears a thin scarf, a thin sash knotted below her breasts, a long lower garment topped with a shorter one worn like an apron, both with an embroidered hem.

Undated, Inner Mongolia, Tara (labelled ‘buddha’), gilt bronze, private collection, photo on GG-ART .

White Tara, seated with her legs locked, displaying an eye on the palm of her hands, the sole of her feet and her forehead.

18th century, Mongolia, Dolonnor, Ushnishavijaya, parcel-gilt bronze, private collection, photo on  Nagel 

One of a series of Ushnishavijaya sculptures with three heads and eight arms, her hair gathered in a double bun tied with a gold ribbon, seated on a double lotus base with sharply pointed tips, dressed in a lower garment loosely gathered around her legs, adorned with jewellery, a scarf and a thin sash knotted below her breasts. Her main hands would have held a Visvajra, her lower right hand does the gesture of generosity, the left one is cupped to support a long-life vase now lost. The other missing attributes are an effigy of Amitabha in her top right hand and probably a vajra sceptre on the other side. The last pair of hands clutches a bow and an arrow.

18th century, Mongolia, Rikshamukha? (labelled dog-headed dakini), bronze, private collection, photo on ArmanAntiques   

This smart dakini is very similar to a silver Rikshamukha (bear-headed) seen previously.  Her right hand wields a (missing) flaying knife, the left hand likely held a skull. She is clad in a tiger or leopard skin loin cloth and adorned with three necklaces, armlets, bracelets, anklets and what looks like sandals but is probably another type of beaded foot ornament.