Tibet, various lamas (14)

14th century, Tibet, Ü, Lhasa area, guru of Phagdru (order), brass (copper alloy) with silver, copper and gold inlay, published by Hanhai Auctions lot 27, photo on HAR

A powerful image of a lama in a patched robe with beaded seams made of copper, an unusual square urna inlaid with gold, his meditation cloak incised with a floral pattern. There is a raised lotus on the sole of his feet and another on the piece of garment that fans out onto the base (see reverse and close up on the above HAR link).

13th-14th century, Tibet, Ü, Lhasa area, guru of Drikung Kagyu (order), brass with silver, copper, and turquoise, cold gold and pigment, published by Hanhai as above, lot 30, photo on HAR

Early 15th century, Tibet, lama, gilt copper with silver, copper, coral and turquoise inlay (and cold gold and pigment), published by Hanhai Auctions as before, lot 31, photo on HAR 

Circa 15th century, Tibet, Drukpa Kargyu lama, copper alloy with painted details, published by Rossi & Rossi in Homage to the Holy

This Tibetan teacher wears the distinctive fan-shaped hat of the drukpa order, decorated with a sun-and-moon symbol at the front. He is adorned with earrings.

16th century, Tibet, lama, metal (copper alloy with copper inlay), private collection, published by Gutian Yi Auction, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

Tibetan teachers are often depicted seated on one, two or three cushions, usually covered with a blanket or an animal skin. The above holds a vajra sceptre and a long-life vase topped with a triple gem. The first cushion is incised with a visvajra motif, the second one with a frieze, possibly imitating the rice grain pattern often seen hems.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Seated Lama, painted wood, nº 2001.1.38 at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena (USA).

Here the cushions and the cloak are painted with clouds.

17th-18th century, Tibet, monk, wood, nº 1980.110.1 at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena (USA).

The monks who have been depicted in Tibetan art are teachers (lamas), not ordinary monks.

18th century, Tibet, lama, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 5614 lot 301, Paris.

And not all lamas are monks; some are laymen who dress accordingly, with a long-sleeve garment that covers both arms.

Probably 18th century, Tibet, lama, papier mâché, at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge, photo published in Buddha’s Word (Diemberger H., Elliott M. Clemente M.).

Tibet, various lamas (13)

Circa 13th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy with silver-inlaid eyes and copper inlaid eyes, lips and nails, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi in Homage to the Holy .

The straight hair line and the thick hair tell us that we are looking at fairly young man. He has life-like facial features, delicately rendered hands and nails, diamonds embossed on the sole of his feet, an incised lotus and wavy line pattern on the hem of his clothes.

Circa 13th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi in Homage to the Holy.

Many 13th and 14th century sculptures of a lama on a throne include a brocaded cloth (with a large visvajra motif in this case) and two lions, either sitting, lying or standing sideways. The above are particularly large and outstanding.

13th century, Tibet, lama, copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Almost everything about this work is noteworthy: the use of copper, the cushion with a stippled and incised motif, the rice grain pattern on the back of the throne, the lotuses at shoulder level, the shape of the backplate and the nimbus and the absence of flames on the outer edge, the elongated cranium of the monk, the lotus base with a tall plinth and a single row of undulating petals going downwards.

14th-15th century, Tibet, buddhist monk, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The use of silver inlay gives this character a piercing gaze. The border of his outer garment is inlay with copper and decorated with an incised pattern.

15th-16th century, Tibet, lama, brass with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Tessier-Sarrou, Arts d’Asie 16th December 2019, lot 30.

This Tibetan buddhist teacher holds a flaming jewel in his left hand.

14th-15th century, Tibet, lama, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo Fondation Alain Bordier, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères.

This one has a vase of longevity in the left hand. His silk robe is richly decorated with a chased floral pattern and he has silver-inlaid eyes and copper-inlaid lips. His legs are unlocked and his right foot is showing.

15th-16th century, Tibet, lama, embossed (or repoussé?) copper with cold gold, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , same as before.

The copper repoussé method was preferred for large items such as this one (95 cm tall). The accessories, or in this case the borders of the garments, were made separately.

Circa 18th century, Tibet, lama, gilt and lacquered wood, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 1265 lot 63.

Tibet, lamas in patched robe (4)

14th century (or earlier?), Tibet, lama, silver with traces of cold gold, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

14th century (or earlier?), Tibet, lama, silver, photo Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

These two small sculptures are probably from the same workshop as another figure published previously (see photo back and front ) also made of silver and dated 13th century by Bonhams. The lamas wear a thick plain vest, a patched robe that goes across the chest and leaves the right arm bare as is customary, a thick meditation cloak covering their shoulders, back and knees. They have a moon-like face with large semi-closed eyes, fleshy nose and lips. The second lama holds a manuscript.

15th century, Tibet, lama, brass, photo here , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This masterpiece depicts a teacher with his right hand in the gesture of debate/teaching and the other dispelling fear. His richly decorated robe has slipped off, revealing the top of his undergarment gathered at the waist.

17th-18th century, Tibet, lama, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, London, sale 9822 lot 171.

Tibet, lamas and their hats (4)

13th-14th century, Tibet, lama (labelled ‘buddhist monk), brass with silver and copper inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A singular and remarkable sculpture of a Tibetan teacher dressed in a layman’s clothes (not all lamas are monks) and wearing a cap or a fur hat. The lotus seat is supported by a stepped throne covered with a cloth and decorated with a dharma wheel at the front.

14th century, Tibet, lama, stone with traces of cold gold and red pigment, photo here , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères.

This lama with a pandita hat and the full monastic garb sits on an unusual lotus seat and holds a rosary, twisted in a 8-shape, in both hands. The long lappets of his headgear fall over his shoulders.

17th century, Tibet, Sakya monk, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The lappets are sometimes folded and crossed at the apex. This lama is seated on  two cushions, the lower one decorated with three upright vajra sceptres. He points a vajra sceptre towards his heart.

18th century, Tibet, lamas, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 14259, Paris.

The pandita hat is worn exclusively by monks and its height varies a lot from one sculpture to the other. The character on the left holds a manuscript in his left hand, the other has the stem of a lotus topped with a book and a flaming jewel in his right hand.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Kagyu lama, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The Kagyu hat is tall and semi-circular at the back, folded at the sides, and usually has a symbol on the front part. This teacher has silver-inlaid eyes, copper-inlaid lips, and both metals were used to decorate his hat. There is a vase of longevity in his left hand.

15th century, Tibet, Kagyu lama, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo  here , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A singular portrait of a tantric practitioner with a wide gaze, seated on an antelope skin, his right hand calling Earth to witness, the other in the gesture of meditation may have supported a book. We can see a yogic belt made of copper across his chest, a bracelet and an armlet on his right arm, a choker round his neck and earrings or earplugs in his ears.

18th century, Tibet, Drukpa Kagyu lama, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Andrew Lau for Hollywood Gallery on issuu .

See more on hats of the Himalayas on Himalayan Art Resources .

Tibet, lamas and their hands (3)

16th-17th century, Tibet, Nyingmapa Lama, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s.

This teacher has the piercing gaze, the sun-and-moon symbol at the front of his lotus hat, the goatee and the position of the hands associated with Padmasambhava. However, he wears monastic garments (that leave his right arm uncovered) and his headgear includes folded lappets and a half-vajra finial, not a vulture feather. The position of his left fingers suggests he may have held a skull cup or a bowl.

15th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy with traces of gilding, private collection, published on HAR .

A rare sculpture of an elderly teacher dressed in full monastic garb including a meditation cloak, seated on cushion covered with an animal skin (lion according to the Himalayan Art Resources website) and a blanket, atop a stepped plinth decorated with two lions and an upright vajra sceptre. His right hand does the gesture of debate, the other may have held a book.

16th century, Tibet, lama, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

A lama with long hair at the back and thick curls at the front, seated on an antelope skin atop a lotus base decorated with a chased pattern, his legs not quite locked. His outer robe, made of silk embroidered with a floral design, is worn low down to display the elegant knot of his belt. The left hand does the gesture of supreme generosity.

16th century, Tibet, lama, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Millon .

This teacher, seated in the vajra position, does the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture.

14th-15th century (or 16th century?), Tibet?, guru, copper alloy with copper and silver inlay, private collection, photo by Ethereal.

This elderly lama’s patched clothes have an unusual border with a large floral motif. The lower part of his lotus seat is also decorated with flowers. His right hand is in the ‘calling Earth to witness’ gesture, symbolising the moment when the historical buddha attained enlightenment.

17th-18th century, Tibet, lama, bronze (brass), at the Minneapolis Institute of Art  (USA).

Depicted in the manner of the 13th-14th century, this lama is seated on a thick cushion with rounded corners and wears his meditation cloak partly off his shoulders, securing it over his legs with his right hand.

Tibet, deified lamas (9)

14th-15th century, Tibet, lama, bronze with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 105 China 1.

An elderly man wearing a lotus hat, his left hand holding a manuscript and the stem of a lotus topped with a ritual water pot, his right hand doing the gesture of debate and holding the stem of a lotus supporting the hilt of a sword. The border of his outer garment is decorated with copper and silver flowers.

16th-17th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy with copper inlay, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s  .

Seated with his legs not quite locked, his hands doing the ‘turning the wheel of the law’ gesture, this youthful Tibetan teacher holds the stem of lotuses that support the hilt of a sword to his right and a manuscript topped with a flaming jewel to his left. He wears a pointed hat with long lappets and monastic garb with an embroidered hem.

16th century, Tibet, lama (labelled ‘monk’), bronze, base restored, private collection, photo on artcurial .

This one wears a richly embroidered patched robe and does the turning the wheel of dharma gesture while holding the stem of (broken) lotuses.

18th century, Tibet, deified lama, (labelled ‘Tsongkhapa’), ivory and paint, private collection, photo on Drouot .

Tibet, various lamas (12)

15th century, Tibet, lama, bronze (brass) with silver eyes, private collection, photo on Hardt 

This smiling character with a long-life vase in his left hand is seated on two brocaded cushions with unusually large chased motifs (clouds and flowers), covered with a thick blanket. His lower garment is held in place with a very ornate cummerbund.

Undated (circa 14th century?), Tibet, lama, bronze (brass with silver-inlaid eyes), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

An early sculpture of a lama seated on a cushion atop a stepped throne decorated with beading and stippled motifs. He wears coarse garments with a stippled lotus print and geometrical incisions, his right foot showing from under the meditation cloak.

Undated, Tibet, lama, bronze (brass with silver and copper inlay), private collection, photo on HAR 

Two blankets on two plainer cushions for this elderly master. The artist has given him a life-like appearance and used silver for the eyes, copper for the lips and the hat. His silk garments are decorated with chased floral and cloud motifs.

16th-17th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

A realistic portrait of an elderly teacher in full monastic garb richly incised with a floral pattern, his left hand over the knee, the right hand doing the gesture of debate/teaching. From the late 16th century onwards it is not uncommon for the outer robe to be gathered on the left side of the body, revealing the undergarment tied under the breast. Other date indicators are the way the meditation cloak is arranged like the petals of a flower covering the top of the lotus base, and the large upward-going petals of the said base.

15th c. Tibet, lama (labelled ‘monk’), bronze with turquoise (and coral) inlay, private collection, photo on Cambiaste

The mahasiddha appearance coupled with the Tibetan monastic garb and the long-life vase in his left hand suggests this personage was a teacher (lama).

15th-16th century, Tibet, lama in cave, stone, private collection, photo on Hardt 

Seated in a yogic pose, his long hair gathered in a topknot, this tantric master only wears his meditation cloak around his legs and a piece of cloth around his arms.

 

17th century, Tibet, lama, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 103 China 2.

This younger man with elongated limbs and torso is dressed in Chinese silks that cover the cushion under him.

Undated, Eastern Tibet, guru, bronze, private collection?, photo on gg-art  

An elderly lama with an oversized head, holding a rosary between his delicately cast hands.

The chased floral pattern all over his cloak recalls a particular group of 15th-16th century brass works made in the Tsang province of Southern Central Tibet but the patched robe with a rice grain border and the petals on the lotus base are of a different style. The inscription at the front looks like a late addition.