Tibet, Maitreya – buddha of the future (3)

15th century, Western Tibet, Maitreya, wood with clay, gesso, straw and pigments, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

This carbon-dated sculpture depicts Maitreya in his buddha appearance, wearing a red patched robe with a blue hem, the garment covering only one shoulder (normally the left one). His missing right hand displayed either the fear-allaying or the teaching gesture, the left hand appears to have been resting over the knee.

14th or 17th century, Tibet, Maitreya, copper alloy, same as before.

Such dark alloy images of Maitreya seated with both legs pendant and the feet resting on a lotus were particular popular in Tibet during the 14th century. The large red circle over his navel is a singular feature. His elongated waist, the shape of the head and face and the draping suggest that the work was made around the 17th century. His headdress is decorated with a stupa and some rosettes, there are traces of cold gold on the face and neck, his hands are ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘, a gesture often displayed by Maitreya.

18th century, Tibet, Maitreya, gilt copper with stone inlay and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This Maitreya is dressed in a fine silk robe decorated with an incised motif and loosely gathered over his legs. As on the previous image, the right shoulder is covered but the arm is left free. He is easily identified by the stupa in his headdress.



Tibet, Manjushri, namasangiti (4)

17th century, Tibet, Manjughosa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Far East Asian Art.

The namasangiti form of Manjushri/Manjughosa may have 1 or 3 heads and up to 12 arms. The above has one head and four hands, in which he holds a sword and a manuscript; the missing attributes are a bow and an arrow.

Undated (circa 18th century ?), Tibet, Manjushri, namasangiti, copper alloy and cold gold, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

On this Pala-revival image we can see the bow in one of his left hands. The other left hand holds the long stem of a blue lotus supporting the Prajnaparamita sutra topped with a flaming jewel.

16th century, (Tibet?), Manjushri, namasangiti, silvered copper alloy with stones and coral, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara (16)

16th-17th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, dark copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

Sometimes Tibetan sculptures depart from standard iconography, especially from the 16th century onwards. Instead of holding a rosary in his right hand, this Chinese-style figure holds a flower, possibly a blue lotus, which is never fully open.

18th century, Eastern Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, brass, at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada).

This one, designed to be carried in a portable shrine or amulet box judging by its  size (about two and a half centimetres), supports a manuscript in his right hand.

Same as before, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The above holds a small object in his upper right hand which Bonhams  describe as a jewel.

He wears a five-leaf crown with Chinese-style serpentine ribbons and his chignon is topped with Amitabha’s head.

18th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt copper with stone inlay and paint, at the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City (USA).

The main hands are always clasped at heart level to hold a wish-granting jewel, while the left one holds a fully-open lotus.

Tibet, Avalokiteshvara – standing (12)

Circa 13th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Cornette de St Cyr.

Avalokiteshvara, in his padmapani form, holds the stem of a lotus in his left hand and  has an antelope skin over his left shoulder,  knotted across his chest. Instead of doing a symbolic gesture with his right hand as is customary he holds a water pot. This feature is borrowed from Gandharan art, where Maitreya (and sometimes Avalokiteshvara) is often seen holding a water pot by the neck with his left hand.

13th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise added later, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

A Pala-style padmapani image with the right hand displaying an embossed lotus within an incised diamond.

The artist has given him the pointed nose and stern gaze typical of Pala art, and a squarish face proper to Tibetan works. We may deduce that this sculpture was made by an Indian artists for a Tibetan patron.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara (labelled Manjushri), brass, is or was at the Lima Lakhang in Lhasa (Tibet), published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This padpamani wears a three-tiered garment inlaid with copper and silver roundels. There is an antelope skin over his left shoulders, with the legs knotted on the other side rather than at the front. The face is painted with cold gold and pigments, the hair is dyed with lapis lazuli powder.

17th-18th c., Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Arthur Millner.


Mongolia, Avalokiteshvara

18th century, Mongolia, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel.

Avalokiteshvara, in his 11-head and 8-arm form, stands on a small lotus with large overlapping petals, holding the usual attributes (rosary, lotus, bow, wheel of dharma, water pot), his main hands held together at heart level, the lower right hand displaying the gesture of supreme generosity.

18th century, Mongolia, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

There are various forms of Avalokiteshvara with one head and four hands, usually seated. The most common one, particularly popular in Tibet and Mongolia, is Shadakshari Lokeshvara. The main hands do the gesture of salutation/reverence, the other two hold a rosary and a lotus. This richly gilt masterpiece follows the style of Zanabazar.

He is adorned with beaded accessories and has the head of Amitabha on top of his own.

18th century, Mongolia, Avalokiteshvara, wood with gold lacquer, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The same form of the deity, with an ample dhoti and a celestial scarf that forms loops around the elbows in the Chinese fashion.

Song Dynasty, Avalokiteshvara, copper with cold gold and pigments, at the Yonghe palace in Beijing, photo by Kenneth Chu.

Although this piece is labelled Song Dynasty, i.e. China, 960-1279 (but could be far more recent), it is reproduced here due to its striking similarity with a sculpture attributed to Mongolia and published in a previous post with the following comments: ‘The style recalls some 11th-12th century Tibetan brass statues with an equally tall chignon, rigid pose, flat billowing scarf, on a similar type of lotus base. Although labelled 14th century, it may be a more recent imitation.”

Some time after this was posted, the museum website labelled the item ’19th century’.

14th [19th] century, Mongolia, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy with cold gold on face, at the Zanabazar Museum in Ulan Bator (Mongolia).




Mongolia, a few portraits (2)

18th century, Mongolia, a bogd gegeen [spiritual leader], possibly Zanabazar, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Wrapped in fine Chinese silk garments with an incised hem and wearing the pointed cap traditionally worn by Sakya lamas, this hierarch holds a vajra sceptre at heart level and a bell with a vajra handle. He sits on a plinth decorated with a double floral border.

18th century, Mongolia, Tsong Khapa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Portrayed as a deified lama, holding the stem of lotuses that support a book and a sword, Tsong Khapa has a bowl in his left hand and does the gesture of teaching/debate with the other.

Same as before, Yeshe Dorje, same as before.

Yeshe Dorje (Zanabazar, in this context) is seated on two embroidered cushions covered with a blanket. He holds the same attributes as the bogd gegeen above.

18th century, Mongolia, Yeshe Dorje, gilt metal, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

We are told on the Himalayan Art Resources website that, according to common belief,  Zanabazar instructed his students to depict him with a vajra and a bell when the image was to be seen by religious practitioners. The rich gilding, soft facial features and large overlapping lotus petals on the base are typical of works coming out of his workshop. Instead of beading (to signify stamens) the top of the base is decorated with a floral motif.

17th-18th century, Mongolia, Padmasambhava and consorts, gilt copper alloy and pigments, from the Sandor P. Fuss collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.


Mongolia, wrathful Vajrapani

Undated (17th century circa?), Mongolia, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This masterpiece depicts Vajrapani in his one-head and two-hand form, wielding a vajra and doing a gesture to ward off evil with his left hand. He has a tiger skin knotted around his waist and a mitre-like hair arrangement, a floral tiara and matching earrings, some beaded jewellery, a thin celestial scarf with serpentine ends that forms a frame around him. The style of the lotus pedestal is typical of Mongolia.

17th-18th century, Mongolia, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This one wears a long snake as a sacred thread. He does the gesture to keep evil away with both hands.

18th century, Mongolia, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy repoussé, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

A different style altogether, with an emphasis on the orange flaming hair and matching eyebrows.

Undated, Mongolia, Vajrapani, copper alloy, same as before.

Same type of hair, but topped with a vajra finial and offset by a five-skull crown with foliate panels. The left hand holds a lasso while doing the same gesture as before.