Tibet, Shakyamuni – crowned and standing

To finish the year, here is a very special one! (See also the other blog “beautiful objects from Tibet”.)

 

12th century circa, Western Tibet, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie's.

12th century circa, Western Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Tibetan metal sculptures of Shakyamuni standing are few, and those of him with a crown even less common. This rare Kashmiri-style work depicts him standing on a lotus over a stepped plinth, adorned with a tripartite foliate crown, earrings and a necklace, and wearing a V-neck robe with a beaded hem. His right hand does the fear-allaying gesture while the other holds a piece of his garment.

 

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Tibet, crowned Shakyamuni – seated (4)

13th century circa, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper and gems, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

13th century circa, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper and gems, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

A Nepalese-style buddha with broad shoulders, his right hand calling Earth to witness, the other in the meditation gesture, his garment decorated with an incised hem. His crown is inlaid with stones and has small rosettes and long soft bows cascading over his shoulders.

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy with turquoise, coral and crystal inlay, published on bumpercollection.org.

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy with turquoise, coral and crystal inlay, published on bumpercollection.org.

On this example, the hem of his inner and outer garments is also incised with a geometrical pattern and the fishtail end of the robe that rests over the left shoulder is inlaid with tiny stones …

15th-c-tibet-shakyamuni-gilt-c-a-face-bumper-col

like the ribbons of his crown. The small raised urna on his forehead is inlaid with turquoise.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt metal, private collection, photo by Cornette de Saint-Cyr.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt metal, private collection, photo by Cornette de Saint-Cyr.

If this is indeed the historical buddha, the sculpture is strange as he is adorned with earrings and floral armbands (in Tibet, crowned buddhas don’t normally wear them), has long strands of hair over his shoulders, and seems to be wearing a sash across his chest rather than a sanghati. 

 

Tibet, Shakyamuni seated – dhyana mudra

12th-13th century, Tibet, buddha Shakyamuni, brass, cold gold on face, pigments, at the Jokhang, published by Ulrich Von Schroeder

12th-13th century, Tibet, buddha Shakyamuni, brass with cold gold on face and pigments, is or was at the Jokhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The historical buddha is seated with both hands in the meditation gesture, the edge of his transparent garment secured in his left hand. His head is topped with the flame of enlightenment. But for this detail, the figure could also be the dhyani buddha Amitabha.

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, terracotta with lacquer and paint, at the Freer Sackler gallery (USA).

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, terracotta with lacquer and paint, at the Freer & Sackler gallery (USA).

Shakyamuni sits under the sacred fig or bhodi tree, wearing a patched robe that covers one shoulder only, his hands in the dhyana mudra, holding a begging bowl. The back panel is decorated with two elephants topped with viyalas and makaras, with foliage all around. The double-lotus base on which he sits is supported by a throne decorated with dharma wheels, lotus flowers and other auspicious symbols.

13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper,

13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper with gilding, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This very unusual Nepalese-style buddha, who sits with his hands in the dyana mudra, has flames coming out of his back. This is in allusion to the yamakapratiharya miracle according to which the buddha rose into the air and produced flames from his shoulders and water from his feet. We will note that he is adorned with a necklace and that he looks very much like a Nepalese Manjushri published in a previous post (Nepal, Thakuri period, 7th May 2014 “From India to Tibet via Nepal”).

Tibet, crowned Shakyamuni – seated (3)

The historical buddha doesn’t have a bodhisattva  appearance but he may wear a crown.  Tibetan crowned (historical) buddhas are usually seated.

13th-14th century, Tibet,

13th-14th century, Tibet, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, is or was at the Khra’Brug monastery, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

A few of them have an Indian-style crown,  as the above sculpture which is nonetheless seated on a Nepalese-style double-lotus base (low base with very wide flat petals arranged alternately).

14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt

14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper with turquoise inlay, photo by Christie’s

Early 14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, photo by Carlo Cristi.

Early 14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, photo by Carlo Cristi.

14th century circa, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper, photo by Sotheby's.

14th century circa, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper, photo by Sotheby’s.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, private collection.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, private collection.

The vast majority are Nepalese-style (or Nepalese-made) figures with their eyes semi-closed, a tear-shape urna and a small five-leaf crown attached with ribbons and decorated with bows. The garment may be a plain or a patched robe, often with an incised hem. They have broad round shoulders and thick arms.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni,

14th-15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper with stone inlay and pigment, is or was at the Jokhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

A few of them have a small three-leaf crown instead.

15th century, Tibet, gilt copper, Shakyamuni, photo by Christie's.

15th century, Tibet, gilt copper, Shakyamuni, photo by Christie’s.

17th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, brass, at the British Museum (London).

17th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, brass, at the British Museum (London).

Others wear a minimal crown.

Undated, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper or copper alloy with cold gold and pigment, at Tibet House Museum in New Delhi.

Undated, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper or copper alloy with cold gold , pigments and turquoise inlay, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated, Tibet, Shakyamuni, same

Undated, Tibet, Shakyamuni, same as above

We will note the many different ways in which one end of the upper garment rests over the left shoulder, and the way the cloth is made to appear thicker or thinner by representing one or both nipples.

Tibet, crowned Shakyamuni – seated (2)

11th-12th century, Tibet, historical buddha Shakyamuni,

11th-12th century, Tibet, historical buddha Shakyamuni, bronze, traces of cold gold and pigment, at the Walters museum (USA).

This is a singular sculpture of the historical buddha with a crown, made of dark bronze,  perhaps once painted with cold gold all over. He wears a transparent garment covering one shoulder and loosely folded over the right arm, the fan-shaped end resting on the shoulder. His ankle-length dhoti  is tucked under his legs in a pleated scallop shape. Both garments have a wide edge decorated with some piping or beading at the centre. He has the broad face and wide eyes of the local people but the shape of his nose and lips is more along the line of the Indian tradition. His lips were painted with red pigment and his urna and crown were once inlaid, probably with turquoise and/or coral.  The toes  on his right leg are curled up exaggeratedly. The sobriety of the statue enhances the harmonious body proportions and the excellence of the craftsmanship.

Tibet, Nepalese-style crowned buddhas

15th century, Tibet, crowned buddha Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, private collection.

15th century, Tibet, crowned buddha Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy and turquoise inlay, private collection.

The buddha is sitting on a typically Tibetan double-lotus base with two rows of beading at the top and at the bottom, his right hand calling Earth to witness, his left hand in the meditation gesture. He has a teardrop-shaped turquoise urna on his broad forehead, and a low crown held with upward flowing ribbons, once inlaid with stones. The hem of his upper and lower garments is decorated with geometrical incisions.

same as above

same as above but with lapis lazuli inlay.

This small statue (about 7.5 cm tall) sits on a Nepalese-style double lotus base but his serene moonlike face, with broad nose and lips, was made in the Tibetan style. The incised upper garment covering one shoulder reveals a very large nipple, the same size as the raised urna on his forehead.

15th-16th century, Tibet, crowned buddha Shakyamuni, brass with glass or stone inlay, at Musée Guimet (Paris).

15th-16th century, Tibet, crowned buddha Shakyamuni, brass with glass or stone inlay, at Musée Guimet (Paris).

same as above, inlaid with gems, private collection

same as above, inlaid with gems, private collection.

The gown of this buddha was overlaid with metal to mark the rectangular pattern of his patched robe, a design which became popular around the 15th-16th century. His crown is inlaid with clear gems, in the Nepalese fashion, and turquoise. It is held with ribbons decorated with rosettes above ear level.

Tibet, a silver crowned buddha

13th century, Tibet, crowned buddha Shakyamuni, silver with copper and turquoise inlay, parcel gilt, published by Carlton Rochell

13th century, Tibet, crowned buddha Shakyamuni, silver with copper and stone inlay, cold gold on face, published by Carlton Rochell

This is a rare statue, because it is made of silver and because it represents the historical buddha in princely attire with a crown. This statue was probably made by a Nepali artist in Tibet, given the use of  clear gemstones as well as turquoise and the fact that crowned buddhas are common among Nepali works of that period but quite rare among Tibetan works.

From the 13th century onwards, garments sometimes show a geometrical pattern made of large rectangles clearly marked with metal inlay .