Tibet, Akshobhya – buddha appearance (12)

13th century, Tibet, Akshobhya? (labelled Bhaisajyaguru), bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Polyauction https://www.polyauction.com.hk,

In Tibetan art, Akshobhya may hold his attribute horizontally in his right hand, palm downwards, as above. (Bhaisajyaguru holds an arura fruit or branch with his palm facing upwards).

15th-16th century, Tibet, Akshobhya, bronze (brass) with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s https://www.christies.com/.

Alternatively, he holds it upright in the palm of his left hand. This smiling buddha has silver-inlaid eyes and (missing) urna and copper-inlaid lips, which suggests, together with the style of the petals on the lotus base and the Chinese silk garments with a cloud pattern, that perhaps it was made in the Tsang province of Central Tibet.

13th-14th century, Western Himalayas/Tibet, Akshobhya, bronze with silver and copper inlay and pigments, private collection, photo by Nagel https://www.auction.de.

In most cases the vajra sceptre is placed on top of the lotus base before the buddha (who may also be Shakyamuni). On this example, it is on top of the stepped throne supported by Yakshas and decorated with a row of copper and silver-inlaid visvajras (associated with Amoghasiddhi) and a long-life vase (associated with Amitayus/Amitabha) at the front. The eyes of the buddha are inlaid with silver, the hem of his sanghati with copper. It would be interesting to know if there are any symbols associated with Ratnasambha and Vairochana on the other sides of the throne.

16th-17th century, Tibet (labelled Kashmir), Akshobhya, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Lempertz https://www.lempertz.com.

Akshobhya is portrayed here on a throne supported by a yaksha and two elephants. His eyes and urna have been painted with pigments to reproduce earlier silver-inlaid works. The border of his garment and the upper rim of the lotus base are decorated with incisions that recall the early West Tibetan style.

 

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Tibet, Shakyamuni seated – bhumisparsha mudra (4)

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Buddhist Art on https://www.buddhist-art.net.

We saw recently a brass sculpture of the historical buddha with a similar v-shaped hairline and prominent knop, seated on a double-lotus base with apple-like petals. This one has a row of exceptionally large beading at the bottom. His right hand is just above the upper rim, in his traditional gesture to call Earth to witness (his enlightenment).

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Polyauction https://www.polyauction.com.hk.

More often, the middle finger touches the base. In this case, the forefinger is slightly forward. The buddha’s punched navel and the waist of his lower garment are visible through his partially folded robe, the border of the cloth is decorated with a chased pattern.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze (copper alloy) with traces of gilding, private collection, photo by 25, Blythe Road http://www.25blytheroad.com.

Here the little finger and forefinger of his right hand are slightly extended forward.

16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s https://www.christies.com.

Conventionally, when the right hand calls Earth to witness, the left hand is held in the meditation gesture.

16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Polyauction.

This buddha presses three fingers of his right hand onto the base.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Michaans https://www.michaans.com.

And on this example the hand is above the base, no finger entering in contact with it.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy) private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

It is very rarely held at a slant.

17th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Florence Number Nine on https://www.liveauctioneers.com.

This one has four fingers going over the edge of the lotus base.

 

Tibet, Shakyamuni – seated (19)

14th-15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

A buddha with high cheekbones, a large forehead and prominent chin, dressed in a patched monastic robe, the tail end of his inner and outer garment arranged in a scallop shape under his ankles.

16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, brass with copper inlay, private collection, photo by Galerie Petillon https://www.galeriepetillon.nl.

We have seen many brass buddhas whose sanghati was decorated with an engraved and copper-inlaid hem, most of them attributed to 14th century Tibet.

15th-16th century, Tibet or Nepal, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with paint, at the State Heritage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

16th century, Shakyamuni (formerly labelled Akshobhya), gilt bronze (copper alloy), at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy) private collection, photo by Christie’s https://www.christies.com.

The gilding and luxurious Chinese silk garment loosely draped around Shakyamuni’s body may seem inconsistent with his vow of poverty and his begging bowl but they became fashionable in parts of Tibet from around the 15th century.

17th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni (labelled Bhaisajyaguru), bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Even so, plain copper alloy works were still produced throughout the following centuries. The above has traces of cold gold on the face and blue pigment on the hair.

Circa 17th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy) private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Rich gilding gradually became the norm even when he wears the patched robe of a mendicant.

Circa 17th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy) private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The sanghati is sometimes so diaphanous that we can see the buddha’s navel and the waist of his lower garment (but not the left nipple in this case, reminding us of his human condition. Part of the cloth has slipped away from his shoulder and the artist has rendered the resulting folds in a realistic manner.

18th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

18th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper and pigments, at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (UK).

Due to its large size (137 cm tall), this item is thought to have been a major altar piece.

18th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper, at the British Museum in London (UK).

A curious case of a buddha with two urnas and wearing his outer garment very low down.

Tibet, Vajradhara – alone (14)

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams https://www.bonhams.com.

15th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Nagel https://www.auction.de.

Vajradhara in his one-head and two-hand form, crossing his hands over his heart, his attributes placed on lotuses fastened to his arms.

15th century, Tibet, Vajradhara (labelled Vairochana), gilt bronze (copper alloy) with traces of pigment, private collection, photo by Castor Hara http://castor-hara.com.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s https://www.sothebys.com.

When the vajra sceptre and the bell are supported by lotuses, his hands normally do the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture (on the second image the lotus supporting the vajra sceptre is broken).

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Kapoor Galleries https://www.kapoorgalleries.com.

15th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s https://www.sothebys.com.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s https://www.sothebys.com.

Alternatively, he holds the attributes in his hands.

16th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt bronze with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s https://www.christies.com.

This sculpture is thought to have been made in the Tsang province of Tibet, famous for its workshops. Some produced many masterpieces made of brass inlaid with copper and silver, others produced gilt copper alloy statues inlaid with a large quantity of turquoise and coral, all of them with characteristic Tibetan facial features and a Yongle-style lotus base. The above is made of gilt copper alloy and has silver-inlaid eyes and copper-inlaid lips – an unusual combination.

16th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt bronze with cold gold, pigments and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Nagel https://www.auction.de.

 

Tibet, Amitayus (15)

13th-14th century, Tibet, Amitayus, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Nagel https://www.auction.de.

Although inspired by the Nepalese ‘Thakuri’ style, this masterpiece is quite different from similar sculptures of Amitayus seen before. He wears the usual crown made of three tall foliate panels going inward and decorated with half rosettes, the three-fold sash drawn tightly across the chest and the large floral earrings, but the treatment of the face is different, especially the eyes; the loose strands of hair are longer, his beaded necklace doesn’t include a pendant and the matching armbands don’t have a foliate panel. Also, the artist has used brass rather than an alloy with a higher copper content.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Amitayus, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold, pigments and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Nagel https://www.auction.de.

There are many interesting details on this sculpture, such as the incised geometrical pattern on the rim of the crown that matches the hem of his lower garment, the decoration at the bottom of the base, the shawl with a stippled lotus motif, the particularly big floral earrings inlaid with a large turquoise cabochon, the showy pendants on his necklace, the snake-like armbands and the serpentine tail end of his garment.

Undated (circa 14th century?), Tibet, Amitayus, gilt metal with stone inlay, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/30033.

The throne supporting this pleasing figure with graceful body proportions is decorated with two peacocks (associated with Amitabha/Amitayus), triple gems and a ‘wheel of the law’ (dharmacakra).

Undated, Tibet, Amitayus, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold, pigments and stone inlay, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/20413.

This buddha belongs to a group of gilt copper alloy works richly inlaid with medium-size cabochons, mainly turquoise but sometimes coral and/or lapis lazuli as well, thought to have been produced in Tibet around the 15th century. On the Himalayan Art Resources website, Jeff Watts attributes it to ‘Sonam Gyaltsen and atelier’ (15th century, Central Tibet). We will note the garment worn tightly and just below the knee so as to display large shin adornments, in the Nepalese fashion.

15th century?, Tibet, Amitayus, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise or glass inlay, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/20408.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Amitabha (Amitayus), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Kapoor Galleries https://www.kapoorgalleries.com.

These, on the other hand, wear Chinese-style silk draping and accessories, including a short necklace with beaded festoons and foliate armbands almost covered by the shawl.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Amitabha (Amitayus), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Kapoor Galleries https://www.kapoorgalleries.com.

Amitayus is the aspect of Amitabha with a bodhisattva appearance, associated with long life. Although we have seen a few exceptions, we may assume that the attribute missing from his cupped hands was a long-life vase containing the elixir of immortality.

Undated, Tibet, Amitayus, gilt metal with stone inlay, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/44086.

A Densatil-style composition with a clever use of the celestial scarf, with a triple gem at the top and stone-inlaid flowers sprouting above the shoulders, loops at elbow level and raining jewels coming out of the extremities. Even the lower end of the garment fanning out over the lotus seat has a jewelled pendant.

Tibet, Shakyamuni – shoulder covering (3)

14th-15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller https://www.kollerauktionen.ch.

A powerful figure with a square face and high forehead, broad shoulders, dressed in a robe with an incised geometrical motif on the hem and a small piece of cloth forming a ‘swallow tail’ shape over the left shoulder.

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Nagel https://www.auction.de .

This buddha with a V-shaped hair line and a prominent lotus bud finial on his chignon is seated on a lotus base with plump apple-like petals often seen on works attributed to the 14th (and early 15th) century. A portion of his robe is arranged like a fish tail across his shoulder.

15th century, Tibet or Nepal, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with pigments, Alan Naftalis collection, on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/86303.

The above is seated on a plain cushion, holding an alms bowl filled with nectar in his left hand. There is no draping across his left shoulder, or his left arm.

Circa 15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s https://www.sothebys.com.

On rare occasions, the last layer of fabric drops vertically at the front (rather than across the left arm) and is partly covered by the folds on the left shoulder.

17th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s https://www.christies.com.

As we have seen in previous posts, late works with Chinese-style features often show the buddha with his right shoulder covered too, but not the arm and chest.

17th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Capriaquar on Asianart.com http://www.asianart.com/capriaquar.

Tibet, Shakyamuni – with vajra sceptre (4)

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper alloy with traces of gilding, private collection, photo by Roy Hu’s Asian Art on http://www.trocadero.com

A traditional portrait of the historical buddha in a patched garment, a vajra sceptre placed before him on the lotus base. He has a square face with a raised urna and a single eyebrow line. His thick curls are topped with a lotus bud finial.

The artist has used beading for the edge of the robe, which is draped so that the extremity doesn’t show at the front.

Circa 15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller https://www.kollerauktionen.ch.

This is a similar lotus base but the vajra sceptre is half embedded in it.

Circa 1400, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s https://www.christies.com.

According to Christie’s, Bodhgaya (where the historical buddha reached enlightenment) was known as Vajrasana, which is why Himalayan sculptors used this attribute on sculptures of Shakyamuni when depicted with the traditional ‘calling Earth to witness’ hand position.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s https://www.christies.com.

This impressive figure wears a diaphanous  sanghati with a particularly ornate border.

A portion of the garment is arranged over the left shoulder in a bell-like shape.

16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s https://www.sothebys.com/.

The chignon or ‘ushnisha‘ displayed by this buddha is made of particularly thick, almost spiky hair curls and topped with a large lotus bud finial, his lips have been painted with red pigment.

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze (copper alloy) with pigment, private collection, photo by Polyauction https://www.polyauction.com.hk.

16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

17th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.