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, Shakyamuni standing (2)

Undated, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper or copper alloy with traces of gilding, pigment, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi.

Undated, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper or copper alloy with traces of gilding, pigment, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, on Himalayan Art Resources.

Inspired by Nepalese works, this Tibetan buddha, with a large head, broad shoulders and a square face, is standing with his right hand in the varada mudra (we can see a wheel of dharma in his palm) and holds the edge of his robe in his other hand. The robe covers both shoulders and forms a stiff shape at the back with a thick pleated hem. The thickness and rigidity of the legs contrast with the beautifully finished feet and right hand.

12th-13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni,

12th-13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper alloy with cold gold and pigment, is or was at a Tibetan monastery, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This is an Indian-style buddha, with a smaller head, different facial features and a more elongated body. His transparent robe, with a thick hem across the chest, covers only one shoulder. The rounded ends of the pleats and the loops over the legs and shins give the draping an extraordinary fluidity. Instead of a straight line (or no line at all), the marking on the abdomen which coincides with the top of his dhoti is curved and joins at the navel. This design is recurrent on 13th century Tibetan sculptures of Shakyamuni (see next picture). His delicate right arm is secured by a kind of tenon between the wrist and the hip.

13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

This singular sculpture of the historical buddha places an emphasis on his  human nature through well marked nipples, pectorals, abdomen and knee caps, but at the same time the rigidity of the trunk, the gap between the thighs and the various incisions give him a doll-like aspect. In turn, this contrasts with the graceful arms and hands and the rounded lower hem and wavy folds of the delicate see-through garment. His facial features, with  wide almond-shaped eyes and curved eyebrows that seem to occupy most of his oval face, are reminiscent of the Nepalese Thakuri period.

Tibet, Shakyamuni standing

11th century, Tibet, gilt copper, Shakyamuni, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

11th century, Tibet, gilt copper, Shakyamuni, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The buddha above holds  the edge of his garment in his left hand, at hip level. His right hand (with what ought to be the mark of the wheel in its palm) is doing the fear-allaying gesture. The lower part of his garment, which covers both shoulders, forms vertical pleats behind him and ends in a straight line, which makes it look very rigid.

12th century, same as above.

12th century, same as above.

This one holds the end of his garment at shoulder level. The cloth has a broad incised hem and forms pleats shaped into a zig-zag in the middle. On both sculptures, the wide gap between the thighs, together with the rigidity of the legs, gives them a doll-like appearance.

11th century, Tibetk Shakyamuni, gilt copper, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

11th century, Tibetk Shakyamuni, gilt copper, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This is more in line with the Gupta style as far as body proportions are concerned, with fleshier thighs and broader shoulders but the slanted waist is reminiscent of Nepalese works. The style of the lotus base corresponds to the 11th century Thakuri (Nepalese) style and period, as does the addition of a square or rectangular plinth under it.

11th century, Western Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, at the Phyi dBang monastery

11th century, Western Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, at the Phyi dBang monastery, Tibet.

The silver-inlaid eyes in conjunction with a tiny mouth, straight nose and oval face suggest an influence from Kashmir, as does the shape of the garment, but Kashmiri works do not normally display such disproportionate  head and hands, and the robes have more concentric lines.

 

 

Tibet, Nepalese-style standing buddha

11th century circa, Tibet, historical buddha Shakyamuni, copper with pigments and cold gold, at the Potala, Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

11th century circa, Tibet, historical buddha Shakyamuni, copper with pigments and cold gold, at the Potala, Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This Tibetan buddha was made in the Nepalese fashion. The main indicators are the shape of the lotus base, the very narrow chest and thin  waist and the use of copper. As the statue is worshipped in Tibet, the face has been  painted with cold gold and pigments, and lapis lazuli powder has been applied to his hair. There are traces of gilding on the garment and on the base suggesting it was originally gilt all over.

Tibet, Kashmiri-style standing buddha

10th-11th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, private collection

10th-11th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, historical buddha Shakyamuni, private collection.

This is an example of the Indian Gupta style revival done in the Kashmir style. The draping is similar to the original 4th to 7th century Indian sculptures but the trunk of the buddha is taller, his arms longer and his face is narrower – especially the forehead. Besides, Gupta-period statues were made of ungilt metal (bronze, copper alloy or brass). The typical Kashmiri lotus base is also an adaptation of earlier Indian ones. This buddha has no navel and his eyes are not silver-inlaid in the Kashmiri fashion, which means the artist was probably Tibetan.