Nepal, Jambhala – Transitional period (2)

10th century, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, Jambhala (labelled Kubera), bronze, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

This dark bronze depicts Yellow Jambhala seated on a throne supported by two lions, holding a mongoose and a citrus fruit, adorned with three necklaces, armbands and a low crown, his left foot resting on lotuses stemming from the base.

Undated (labelled ‘possibly 12th century), Nepal, Jambhala (labelled Kubera), copper alloy, same as before.

Although his mongoose is missing from his left hand, the citron in his right hand identify this figure as Yellow Jambhala, seated at royal ease, a flaming halo fastened to his back. He is adorned with a floral tiara matching earrings, armbands, and a curious necklace with large medallions and some lace that passes under his breasts like a cross belt.

Circa 13th century, Nepal, Jambhala, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

We rarely get a chance to see early sculptures complete with their base and back plate. Here, Jambhala is seated at ease on a patterned cloth placed over the stepped lion throne, in the manner of the ancient Swat Valley art.

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Nepal, a few bodhisattvas (2)

11th century, Nepal, Vajrapani, gilt copper with pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, photo by Ulrich von Schroeder.

An interesting image of Vajrapani holding a large vajra sceptre upright in his left hand while doing the fear-allying gesture with the other, his face (painted in Tibet) including an unusual third eye. His dhoti is much shorter on one side and doesn’t have the habitual pointed end at the front, his sash is knotted on the right side in a singular and innovative fashion.

9th-10th century, Nepal, Manjushri, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Carlo Cristi.

The bodhisattva of wisdom held a now missing manuscript in his cupped hand. He is adorned with his usual three-tooth pendant, some large floral earrings and matching necklace, armbands and bracelets. His right hand displays the fear-allaying gesture and there is a stippled lotus in the palm. He wears a long dhoti with more stippled lotuses and a plain sash across his chest.

Circa 10th century, Nepal, Manjushri, siddhaikavira, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This form of Manjushri may be seated or standing, the left hand holds the stem of a lotus (no book on it) and the right hand is extended palm out to display generosity and may hold a conch shell or a round object sometimes described as a boss.

12th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, copper with traces of gilding, at the British Museum in London (UK).

Avalokiteshvara, seated at ease, holding the stem of a large open lotus in his left hand.

Nepal, Vasudhara – Transitional period (2)

10th century, Nepal, Vasudhara, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Cornette de Saint Cyr.

The goddess of wealth and harvest is shown here in her one-head and six-arm form, seated on a large lotus, her right leg extended, the foot resting on a lotus attached to the base, adorned with large floral earrings, matching necklace,  armbands and anklets, plain bangles and a belt with a round buckle. The top right hand does the gesture to accomplish music, the middle one holds raining jewels, the lower one displays the gesture of generosity and may have held a fruit. The left hands are likely to hold a long-life vase, a sheaf of rice grain and the Prajnaparamita sutra.

11th century (1082), Nepal, Vasudhara, gilt copper with gemstones and vermilion, at the Freer Sackler gallery in Washington DC (USA).

We have almost the same iconography here except for the left hands, which clearly hold a manuscript at the top, a sheaf of grain below and a vase at the bottom. She wears a singular crown with an effigy of Amitabha on the front panel.

Undated, Nepal, Vasudhara, copper or copper alloy, private collection, photo published on Himalayan Art Resources.

The brocaded cushion on which the deity is seated, with her legs locked, reproduces a model seen on early buddhist sculptures from the Gilgit area. Instead of the vase, she holds a lotus in her lower left hand and there is an embossed lotus in the palm of her top right hand. The cold cold and pigments on her face and hair suggest the statue was worshipped in Tibet.

Nepal, Avalokiteshvara – standing

9th-10th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

From the end of the Licchavi period and during the Transitional period, the mitre-like crown evolved in a tripartite crown with the panels slightly set apart and the side leaves smaller than the central one. The flames of the oval halo were individually modelled on the outer edge and given a pointed end, and in this instance according to Sotheby’s there is a naga hood at the apex. The water pot in Avalokiteshvara’s hand is decorated with incisions. He is adorned with large floral earrings, two rows of beads with a matching flowers and a matching belt, serpentine armbands, plain bracelets, a thick sacred thread that passes under his sash. His dhoti is much shorter on one side and decorated with deeply engraved stripes and various motifs in between.

10th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, Thakuri period, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

Here,  the bodhisattva of wisdom has no armbands and only one necklace, as on Licchavi sculptures; in fact, an older photo of this same item was labelled 7th century. A recurrent feature in Nepalese art throughout the centuries is the zigzag folds of the cloth at the front that end in a sharp point between the legs.

10th century, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, Thakuri period, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The sash across the hip also evolved and acquired broader and more flowing extremities, making it more showy. The serpentine armbands are worn high up and have a different shape so that the head is now broader than the tail, and at an angle – as if looking towards the bodhisattva.

10th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy and gems, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This masterpiece is a forerunner of the posterior Malla style, with its rich fire-gilding and stone inlay, elaborate accessories, and more fluidity in the limbs that gives the impression of natural movement.

Each panel of his crown was once heavily studded with gems and there is a lotus bud at the tip of each one, plus a large of effigy of Amitabha on the central panel.

Both his dhoti and his sash are decorated with an unusual profusion of deeply incised geometrical motifs, which Bonhams interpret as yantras and srivatsas.

10th-11th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper and stone inlay at the Asia Society in New York (USA).

Eventually, a stippled lotus pattern became a common decoration for the lower garment. This figure also has an effigy of Amitabha in his crown and probably held in the left hand the stem of a lotus that stemmed from the pedestal.

Undated (labelled ‘possibly 13th century’), Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, Avalokiteshvara, bronze, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

 

Nepal, various buddhas – transitional period (2)

9th century, Nepal, Amitayus, copper, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This smiling buddha  recalls a corpus of Nepalese copper or copper alloy sculptures, attributed to the transitional period between the Licchavi and the Malla dynasties, that depict seated buddhas and bodhisattvas with a broad and tight-fitting sash across the chest, an ankle-length dhoti, a tall tripartie crown with panels of more or less the same height and set slightly apart, princely jewellery including large floral earrings, foliate armbands, and a  short necklace. The above has curiously slanted eyes that contrast with his regular and well-defined eyebrows, his limbs and torso are more elongated than usual and the facial contours are squarer. His hands are cupped before him to hold a (missing) long-life vase.

10th–11th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, at the Cincinnati Art Museum (USA).

The historical buddha stands somewhat stiffly against a rather small one-piece mandorla with a flaming halo, holding a piece of his plain garment in his left hand and displaying the gesture of supreme generosity with the other, his leg and feet slightly oversized.

Circa 12th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, stone, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This one has a prominent round head with an extra row of thick curls over his forehead and a robe with concentric pleat possibly derived from the Mathura style in India.

Pala India, crowned buddha – standing (3)

Undated (late Pala period), India, Bihar, Shakyamuni, bronze, at the Patna Museum (India), photo by Anandajoti Bhikkhu.

One of a series of very elegant standing crowned buddhas on display at the Patna Museum, thought to have been made in Bihar around the 11th century, with a tear-shaped jewel design used at the front of the pedestal, the top of the flaming arch, and in this case for the large ornaments on each side of the buddha’s face. His eyes, urna and short necklace are probably inlaid with silver. The design of his crown and jewellery are very similar to those we saw on a 10th-11th century Indian buddha kept at the British Museum in London.

Undated (late Pala period), India, Bihar, Shakyamuni, bronze, at the Patna Museum (India), photo by Anandajoti Bhikkhu.

The design of the arch is more elaborate here, with sharp and well separated flames, openwork on the inside, a beaded inner edge. The triangular panels of his crown and his main necklace are also more intricate. Note the way his transparent garment is longer at the sides.

Undated (late Pala period), India, Bihar, Shakyamuni, bronze, at the Patna Museum (India), photo by Anandajoti Bhikkhu.

On this sculpture, the tear-shaped design has been used for the earrings of the buddha, the tip of the panels of his crown, the motif at the top of the mandorla, as well as for the tortoise pedestal. Again, his sanghati is longer on each side.

Undated (late Pala period), India, Bihar, Shakyamuni, brass, at the Patna Museum (India), photo by Anandajoti Bhikkhu.

This figure has different body proportions, with a larger head and shorter limbs.

Undated (late Pala period), India, Bihar, Shakyamuni, brass, at the Patna Museum (India), photo by Anandajoti Bhikkhu.In every case, Shakyamuni holds a piece of his robe in his left hand and does the fear-allaying gesture with the other. The above wears a necklace with tear-shaped pendants with a pearl below.

 

Pala India, Shakyamuni – stone

10th-11th century, India, Shakyamuni, phyllite, private collection, published on http://www.icollector.com

Seated on a double lotus atop a lion throne, Shakyamuni wears a  tightly draped and finely pleated sanghati that covers the left shoulder only, his right hand calling Earth to witness, the other doing the meditation gesture.

The central bodhi tree leaf at the top of the stele is placed strategically to look like a naga hood above the buddha’s head, which is surrounded by a flaming halo with a floral motif at the apex and an inner wreath fastened with three floral elements. Next to him, two celestial figures and two attendants, one of them (possibly Avalokiteshvara) holding a lotus.

10th century, India, Bihar, Gaya, Shakyamuni, at the Patna Museum (India), photo published on wikimedia.

The pleating on this sculpture is even finer and the buddha is seated on a brocaded cushion with a geometrical pattern.

10th century, Northeast India, Shakyamuni, stone, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Another example with bodhi tree leaves at the top of the arch, but a beaded rather than flaming halo, and four stupas on the sides. In Himalayan art, the crowned buddha appearance, which originated in India, may include earrings and a necklace but no other accessories. Although opinions differ, it is generally regarded as the sambhogakaya aspect of the buddha.

11th-12th century, Eastern India, Shakyamuni, phyllite, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

In Pala art, buddhas and bodhisattvas often wear a low tiara whereas crowned buddhas usually wear a crown made of tall triangular foliate panels.

Here, the floral earrings match the rosettes of his crown.

11th-12th century, Northeast India, Shakyamuni, black stone, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This buddha is seated on a throne decorated with two recumbent winged creatures, two columns, a devotee kneeling by a fire altar.