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.

Nepal, Avalokiteshvara (4)

10th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, copper with traces of gilding and pigment, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The bodhisattva of wisdom is depicted with the stem of a (broken) lotus in his left hand and the other hand in the gesture of supreme generosity. The style of the nimbus, the lotus pedestal, the body proportions, the tripartite foliate crown, the serpentine armbands, the folds of the dhoti, and the sash tied on the left hip are typical of the Nepalese Transitional Period (roughly 850-1200 AD).

14th century, Nepal, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt copper with stone inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Shadakshari Lokeshvara, adorned with Malla-style crown and jewellery, including rings on his fingers.

17th century, Nepal, Bodhisattva of Mercy (Avalokiteshvara), silvered bronze possibly, private collection, photo by Millon-Rivera, Arts d’Asie 7th December 2017, lot 137.

18th century, Nepal, Cintamani Lokeshvara, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection, photo and details on Bonhams, Hong Kong .

This form of Avalokiteshvara, when standing, usually holds a bunch of jewel in his left hand while the other displays the gesture of supreme generosity. In this case, the left hand is holding on to a branch of the tree that forms an arch around him. Bonham’s expert points out that he wears a tiger skin dhoti (most unusual for a peaceful entity). She also explains that he is dropping a jewel into the bag of the supplicant kneeling next to him.

Nepal, Shakyamuni (2)

10th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Probably made for a portable shrine, this small figure (6,5 cm tall) wears a necklace with a large pendant inlaid with a ruby (or similar gemstone). He is otherwise portrayed like most standing buddhas produced during the early Transitional Period, i.e. dressed in a transparent garment that covers both shoulders and holding a piece of the robe in his left hand while his right hand does the gesture of generosity. There is no lotus bud finial on his hair bun.

9th-10th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, bronze with cold gold, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17719 lot 229, Paris.

Seated examples from the same period usually wear a transparent garment with no decoration on the (barely visible) hem and no folds over the left shoulder. This buddha’s hands are in the gesture of meditation, his conical chignon is topped with a lotus bud.

10th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, black stone, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 5533 lot 252, Paris.

A different style, with broad shoulders and long legs, his robe almost invisible but for the folds over his left shoulder, his hair rendered with rows of large snail-like curls and a smooth bun topped with a lotus bud.

13th-14th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, gilt copper with cold gold and pigment, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

During the Malla period the hem is more sinuous across the chest and more visible as it is often decorated. Sometimes with beading…

14th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, bronze with cold gold, private collection, photo by Lempertz, sale 1146 lot 312.

14th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, silver with turquoise, private collection, photo by Poly Auction, sale HKF3316 lot 3093.

… often with a chased rice grain pattern between two rows of beading. The under layer may have a plain edge.

14th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni (labelled ‘Akshobhya’), gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Bonhams, 25th June 2019 lot 172, San Francisco.

Occasionally the border has no incised motif or beading.

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani – various forms (6)

12th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Nilambara/Nilambadhara Vajrapani brandishes a vajra sceptre in his right hand at head level and holds a bell against his left hip, often upside down. He is usually adorned with nothing but snakes, including a long one to tie his mass of flaming hair.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, brass with pigment and traces of cold gold, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Canda/Chanda Vajrapani is quite similar but with a lasso in his left hand, his fingers making a threatening gesture, as above, or the gesture to ward off evil. On this masterpiece he is adorned with jewellery, wears a tight-fitting tiger skin loin cloth, and has an upright vajra at the top of his mitre-like hair.

14th century, Tibet, Canda Vajrapani, gilt copper with turquoise inlay, photo on Fondation, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

We have seen other examples of him standing on a lotus base including a garuda on a bed of snakes (see on HAR , and here).

15th century, Tibet, Canda Vajrapani, brass with stones, cold gold and pigment, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as above, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Undated (circa 15th century?), Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy (with cold gold, pigment and turquoise), private collection?, photo in an article by Marianne Talma on exarc.net.

Nepal, Vasudhara (4)

13th-14th century, Nepal, Vasudhara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with rubies, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, 2009, London.

The goddess of wealth and harvest in her one-head and six-arm form, seated with a leg pendant, her foot on a lotus attached to the base, her top right hand making a gesture to accompany music, the lower right hand in the gesture of supreme generosity and holding a fruit. She has a ‘raining jewel’ in her middle right hand, a manuscript, a sheaf of grain and a long-life vase in her left hands.

Early 14th century, Nepal, Vasudhara, gilt copper with stone inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

15th century, (Nepal?), Vasudhara, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Poly Auction, sale HKM3718 lot 3889.

16th-17th century, Nepal?, Vasudhara (labelled ‘bodhisattva’), gilt copper, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 9949 lot 140, London.

16th-18th century, Nepal, Vasudhara, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Koller, sale A179AS.

Nepal, various buddhas (3)

12th century, Nepal, Vairocana, copper with traces of cold gold, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Vairocana is seated on brocaded cushion atop a throne supported by lions, his hands in the gesture of enlightenment specific to him, adorned with a tripartite foliate crown with rosettes and ribbons, large floral earrings, a short necklace, large armbands, plain bracelets and a beaded belt. He wears a sash across his chest and a long dhoti with a patterned border.

13th century, Nepal, Vairocana, gilt copper with stone inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The same entity seated on a three-legged tool, a design proper to Nepal, adorned with a Malla-style crown, and shin adornments that match his armbands, but only one necklace and no sash or scarf.

13th-14th century, Nepal, Vajrasattva, gilt bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Ethereal .

Vajrasattva in his two-hand form, seated in the vajra position, holding an upright vajra sceptre in his right hand and an upturned vajra bell in the other.

15th century, Nepal, Vajrasattva, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Ethereal .  

A variant, with the bell held horizontally.

17th-18th century, Nepal, Vajradhara, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 9822 lot 154, London.

The addi buddha usually holds a vajra sceptre and a vajra bell in his hands crossed over his heart. The above has a half-vajra finial on his chignon.

17th-18th century, Nepal, Vajradhara, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 14259, Paris.

When not in his hands, his attributes are supported by lotuses placed by his side on the lotus base (missing here).

Circa 16th-17th century, Nepal, labelled ‘Vajradhara and Prajnaparamita’, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 736 China 4.

Vajradhara in embrace with Bhagavani, who holds the same attributes. On this example she sits with only one leg around his waist.

17th century, Nepal, Akshobhya, gilt metal, at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum in Mumbai, India, photo Photo Dharma .

Akshobhya is seated on a cushion atop a stepped throne with elephants and a wheel of dharma at the front. The arch behind him is decorated with viyalas, makaras, nagarajas, a garuda, and a parasol at the apex. An upright vajra sceptre is missing from his left hand (unless this is the historical buddha).

17th-18th century, Nepal, Ratnasambhava, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17598 lot 371.

A Chinese-style Ratnasambhava with a lock of hair on his forehead, displaying a jewel incised in the palm of his right hand. His loosely draped silk garment covers both shoulders and most of the (missing) lotus base.

Tibet, various arhats (2)

18th century, Tibet, Rahula (labelled ‘monk’), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Asium Auction, 12th December 2016, lot 14.

Rahula is identified by the crown (or tiara) he holds in both hands at heart level. He is often depicted wearing a thick layman’s garment with long sleeves.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Gopaka (labelled ‘unidentified monk’), brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This elderly man is probably Gopaka, the arhat who holds a manuscript in both hands before his heart.

16th century, Tibet, Abheda, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Andrew Lau for Hollywood Galleries on issuu .

18th century, Tibet, Abheda, gilt copper with cold gold and pigment, photo on  Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Arhat Abheda holds a stupa in both hands. On the first picture he is seated with both legs pendant and wears thick felt boots.

17th century, Tibet, Nagasena (labelled ‘lama’), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Millon, Civilisations 20th June 2012, lot 285.

We saw a very similar image of Nagasena in a previous post. He holds a khhakkhara staff in his right hand and a vase in the other.

17th century, Tibet, Pantaka? (labelled ‘monk’), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, London 2009.

Pantaka may do the dharmacakra mudra with his hands while holding a manuscript but in Tibet he usually does the gesture of debate/teaching with his right hand and holds the book (missing here) in the other, as above.