Tibet, Milarepa (13)

16th-17th century, Tibet, Milarepa, polychrome zitan wood, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s .

Milarepa, identified by the inscription on the base and by the way his right hand is cupped to ‘listen to the echoes of nature’. He is seated in a relaxed manner with his right knee raised, on a double-lotus base covered with the skin of a deer, holding a skull cup in his left hand. His sumptuous silk garment is decorated with a floral print.

Circa 16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, copper alloy, private collection, photo on Cornette de Saint Cyr .

Seated on a single lotus.

Late 18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on lot-art .

18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Drouot .

18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze, private collection, photo on Hardt .

Seated on two cushions.

18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, polychrome clay, private collection, photo by Tessier-Sarrou, 16th December 2013 lot 113.

Inside a cave, his hair tied in a bun, the skull cup containing a vase.

18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, clay with traces of polychromy, private collection, photo by Tessier-Sarrou, 16th December 2013 lot 114.

Seated on a single cushion.

18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, clay with traces of polychromy, private collection, photo by Tessier-Sarrou, 16th December 2013 lot 111.

It is unusual for him to lean on his left hand while the right hand is raised to his ear. He has a few strands of hair falling over his shoulders, and there is a yogic strap across his chest. The animal skin on the lotus base seems to be that of an antelope (with horns rather than antlers).

18th century or earlier, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze (copper alloy with traces of cold gold and blue pigment), private collection, photo on lot-art .

A similar pose, the two cushions covered with an antelope skin, his silk garment decorated with a floral pattern, the border embroidered with a frieze.

Tibet, Milarepa – variants (7)

Late 14th or early 15th century, Central Tibet, Milarepa, copper alloy with traces of colour, at the  Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, metal (brass) with copper inlay, at the Zhiguan Museum of Fine Arts in Beijing (China), photo on HAR .

Undated (15th or 16th century), Tibet, Jetchan Mila Repa, (brass?), is or was at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia (USA), photo on Journal .

Milarepa, seated on an antelope skin placed on a single lotus base, a skull cup in his left hand, ‘listening to the echoes of nature’ with the other, his meditation belt slung over his right shoulder.

18th century, Eastern Tibet, Milarepa, copper with cold gold and pigment, photo by Hanhai Auctions, October 2015 on HAR .

18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, gilt metal, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, photo 51174 from the Huntington Archive

Leaning on his left arm.

(circa 18th century?, Tibet?), Milarepa (brass with traces of cold gold), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources  .

Seated on the hide of an antelope, atop a rocky formation, an adorant at his feet. Below, a cave with a lama and two dogs.

Tibet, Milarepa – variants (6)

14th century, Tibet, Milarepa, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo here , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

An early masterpiece featuring the Tibetan poet and teacher seated in a relaxed manner on an antelope skin atop a lotus seat, his right hand placed near his right ear to listen to ‘the echoes of nature’, his left hand supporting a skull cup. A yogic band decorated with a geometrical pattern is slung over his shoulders and his pierced earlobes indicate that he wore some earrings, now lost.

17th century, Tibet, Milarepa, brass, private collection, photo on Michael Backman Ltd  .

Undated, Tibet, Milarepa, (gilt) brass, photo here , Fondation Alain Bordier, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Circa 18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, painted clay, private collection, photo on Homage to the Holy by Rossi & Rossi.

18th-19th century, Tibet, Milarepa, painted bamboo, private collection, photo by Chiswick Auction, Asian Art 4th September 2018, lot 574.

When not holding a skull cup he usually leans on his left arm. This late work shows him emaciated, and seated on a leopard skin.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

He may be seated with his legs locked.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

On rare occasions his left hand is placed on his knee. We will note the abstract gaze, the large earrings, the broad meditation strap and the garment covering both legs.

18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, wood, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

When not raising his right hand to his ear he has it over his knee and may hold a skull cup in his left hand or lean on his left arm.

15th century or later, Tibet, Milarepa, painted clay?, at the Gyantse Kumbum, photo by Christian Luczanits here.

Alternatively, his left hand may be held to his ear.

Tibet, Milarepa – variants (5)

15th century, Central Tibet, Milarepa, bronze (copper alloy) with semi-precious stones and pigment, at the Norton Simon Museum (USA), photo on HAR

A remarkable sculpture of the Tibetan hero, seated with his legs locked, on an antelope skin atop an unusual lotus base, his chest bare, his right hand ‘listening to the echoes of nature’ (to quote his own words), the left hand holding a skull cup containing a triple gem surrounded with flames. He has silver and/or copper-inlaid eyes, urna and mouth and wears a meditation belt with a grain motif and a garment with a chased cloud pattern. The sumptuous jewellery inlaid with medium to large cabochons is singular, he is generally depicted with nothing but spiral-shaped bone earrings – on occasions he has a spartan piece of rope around his neck and/or a bangle on his right wrist.

16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze with copper inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s, Amsterdam, sale 2761.

Seated in a relaxed manner, holding a skull cup in his left hand, the meditation strap over his right shoulder incised and inlaid with copper.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17457 Arts d’Asie, Paris.

Seated with a leg pendent, on a curious lotus base, his meditation strap resting across the right arm, the robe slipping off his left arm, thus revealing marked pectorals and a large navel.

Undated, Tibet?, Milarepa, gilt metal, private collection photo on Himalayan Art Resources

He may raise his right hand to his ear and lean on the left arm. The above sits with his right knee raised and has a vase topped with a skull cup in front of him. His robe covers both shoulders but leaves the chest, arms and legs bare.

16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze with copper inlay, private collection, photo on Hardt .

As pointed out by the auction house, it is most unusual for Milarepa to be depicted with a beard, and we don’t often see him seated with his legs locked. Presumably, identification has been made from the gesture of the right hand (associated with but not exclusive to him) together with the yogic belt over his shoulder and the skull cup in his left hand.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Milarepa, painted stone, private collection, photo on Astamangala .

The yogi is seated on an antelope skin on a base evoking the cave in which he retired to meditate. There is a skull cup containing a jewel in his left hand.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, polychrome clay, private collection, photo by Castor-Hara, Arts d’Asie 2010.

Tibet, Milarepa (12)

15th century, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze (copper alloy), at the American Museum of National History in New York (USA).

A few sculptures depict Milarepa with a piece of twisted rope around his neck, we saw two from Bonhams, one of them very much like this one. He raises his right hand to his ear and holds a skull cup before him in his left hand.

16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

A rare image of him holding an antelope horn in his left hand. There was a similar object in a previous post .

Unlabelled (circa 16th century?, Tibet, copper alloy), Milarepa, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

Another example with a horn.

15th century (labelled ’18th century onHardt, 2020), Tibet, Milarepa, stone with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo on Hardt 

An unusual image of the Tibetan hero seated on a throne covered with an antelope skin, a devotee next to him.

18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

One of a group showing him seated on a couple of cushions covered with a blanket and an antelope skin, his right hand over his knee, see here for comparison and here for a view of the back.

Tibet, Milarepa (11)

15th century, Tibet, Milarepa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Andrew Lau for Hollywood Galleries

The Tibetan hero is seated in a relaxed manner, his right hand by his ear to listen to ‘the echoes of nature’. Traditionally, when doing this gesture he holds a skull cup or a bowl before him, as on the next image, but this one leans on the lotus base. The hem of his loose robe is decorated with a stippled motif.

Early 16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze (brass) with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 1008 (Paris).

On this masterpiece he is seated on an antelope skin and wears a copper-inlaid yogic band across his chest.

He has silver-inlaid eyes and teeth and wears the shell earrings often seen on sculptures of tantric masters.

16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Andrew Lau for Hollywood Galleries

Here he holds a skull cup over his left knee. His outer garment is fitted tightly under the breast rather than across the chest. The lotus base is covered with an antelope skin, the head of the animal and its front hooves barely visible in front of him.

16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Ravenel .

This youthful Milarepa holds a horn. There is a floral print on his sanghati.

Undated, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze (copper alloy), at the Museum of Applied Arts Sciences in Sydney (Australia).

His right hand over his knee and his left hand holding a skull cup before him is another traditional way of depicting him. This antelope has no horns.

17th century, Tibet, Milarepa, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on AJ Speelman

On the contrary, this one does and there is another animal with horns at the front of the base, and a goose opposite. Milarepa’s meditation belt is decorated with a chased motif.

Tibet, Milarepa (10)

15th-16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze (brass) with copper and silver inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17347.

The founder of the Kagyu order is easy to identify when he holds his right (or left) hand to his ear to ‘listen to the echoes of Nature’ – in which case he normally holds a skull cup or a begging bowl in the other hand. On this fine example he has silver-inlaid eyes and a copper-inlaid meditation belt incised with a geometrical motif that matches the border of his garment.

15th c., Tibet, Milarepa, stone+paint, 7,6 cm, 19111 har, Hermitage

15th century, Tibet, Milarepa, stone and paint, at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

16th-17th century, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Cambiaste

He is always seated, and almost always in the ‘royal ease’ position.

Undated, Tibet or Nepal, Milarepa, bronze (copper alloy), at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (USA), photo on umich

The above sits on a brocaded cushion covered with an antelope (or deer) skin, atop a single lotus base. His meditation belt is decorated with a chased rice-grain pattern.

Undated, Tibet, Milarepa, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources, item 3094 .

The meditation belt, also with a rice-grain motif here, is worn as a sash when it is not used as a strap. Like Tsang Nyon Heruka, he often wears large spiral earrings.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze (brass) with copper and silver inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17347, and on Himalayan Art Resources, item 21148.

For this masterpiece the artist has used silver inlay for the eyes and copper for the meditation belt (and possibly for the lips).

16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze, private collection, photo by Hollywood Galleries

This rare shrine depicts an incident when Milarepa, who was meditating in a cave, allegedly prevented a hunter and his dog from killing a deer.

17th-18th century, Tibet, lama (Milarepa), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He is sometimes depicted leaning on his left arm, the right hand placed across his knee. On this example, the right hand displays supreme generosity. The right foot is placed on a lotus bud stemming from the base.

18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Polyauction

On this more recent work he holds the left hand to his ear while leaning on the right arm (no skull cup).

Circa 16th c., Tibet, Milarepa, copper alloy, private collection, photo by MC Daffos, on Himalayan Art Resources, item 21025.

And here he holds his left hand to his ear while his right hand rests over his knee, (no skull cup either).

Tibet, Milarepa (10)

14th century, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Many images of Milarepa show him seated at ease, his right hand raised to his ear, the left hand supporting a skull cup. The above holds a long-life vase. He wears the usual loosely wrapped garment, spiral earrings, bracelets and yogic band. We saw a similar image from the Navin Kumar collection on the Himalayan Art Resources website (see link in left margin), reproduced below for comparison, with a added views.

14th century, Tibet, bronze, private collection.

Previously labelled 14th century, it is now labelled 16th century (1500-1599) and attributed to a Tsang province atelier in Central Tibet. Note the floral motif on the strap, sculpted rather than engraved, and the five strands of hair with a rounded edge at the back.

Undated (circa 16th century), Tibet, Milarepa, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Milarepa may be seated on an antelope skin placed over the lotus base.

Tibet, Milarepa – variants (3)

18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, brass with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This masterpiece depicts Milarepa with his typical hairstyle, relaxed posture, meditational belt, monkish robe and antelope skin, his right hand over his knee and the left hand holding a skull cup.

The round holes in his earlobes tell us that he once wore some hoops or spiral-shaped earrings. His meditation belt and robe are decorated with a floral pattern.

Undated (15th or 16th century), Tibet, Milarepa, brass and pigments, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

The right hand raised to the ear, a gesture proper to him, is thought to be a reference to his teaching method (preaching with songs). The other hand would normally hold a skull cup but here he is leaning against it.

16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, copper alloy and pigment, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Another variant is the right hand over the knee and the left hand holding a skull cup, as above. The artist has given him thick curls, individually sculpted, and marked skin folds under the breasts (a feature typical of the 16th century). He sits on a stepped plinth decorated with a chased floral and rice grain pattern.

Undated, Tibet, Milarepa, brass, same as before.

Likely to be far more recent, this fine work depicts Milarepa on a big cushion, the antelope skin covering it from side to side, his robe draped across the chest, under the arm and over the right shoulder.

Undated, Tibet, Milarepa, silver, same as before.

It is most unusual for him to be seated on a deer skin. In fact, he is said to have prevented a deer from being killed by a hunter and his dog while he was a hermit.

Tibet, Milarepa – variants (2)

15th century, Tibet, Milarepa, silver-plated copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Milarepa’s right hand is normally raised to his ear or placed over his knee. On this sculpture, the right hand does the gesture of teaching, while the left hand rests on the knee. The antelope or lion skin on which he usually sits is not featured (nor on the work below). No jewellery or yogic strap either.

Undated, Tibet, Milarepa, polychrome wood, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Another unusual variant, with the right hand held palm out rather than against the ear and his legs in the vajra position. The left hand probably supported a skull cup or a  bowl.

16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, stone and paint, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

This time, the yogi leans on his left hand while raising his right hand to his ear.

17th century, Tibet, Milarepa, rhinoceros horn, at Rumtek monastery, Sikkim (modern India), photo by Nik douglas.

This picture is probably the wrong way round, the bare shoulder should be the right one, and he would normally lean against his left arm and have his right hand resting across his knee.  He sits on a lion skin, over a rocky formation.

Undated (17th century circa?), Tibet, silver, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

A very rare and beautifully crafted portrait of the Tibetan saint with a wrathful expression on his face.

18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Another image of him with his legs in the vajra position. There is no animal skin on the lotus base.

18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, stone and paint, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

This image departs slightly from the standard iconography as he doesn’t normally use his raised knee to support his right arm.

18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, gilt copper alloy, at the Linden Museum in Stuttgart, published on Wikipedia Commons.

In this case, the left hand is not held in the meditation gesture, or any other symbolical gesture, and the animal skin faces to his right instead of the head being at the front. He holds a small bowl rather than a skull cup.