Tibet, Shakyamuni seated (8)

13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze (copper alloy) with silver and copper inlay, cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This remarkable sculpture of the historical buddha depicts him with a tall conical chignon topped with an equally conical lotus bud finial, almost as if to reach the sky.

His face and neck are painted with cold gold and pigments, the hair dyed with lapis lazuli powder, adding warmth to his facial features. The eyes are inlaid with silver. The piece of robe folded over his left shoulder reveals an incised pattern.

His delicates fingers were cast separately. The nails are inlaid with copper, the hem of his garments is inlaid with silver and copper. A tiny vajra sceptre is placed before him.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, brass with copper-inlaid lips and silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Although thousands of metal sculptures depicting Shakyamuni have been produced in Tibet, each one has specific features that makes it unique.  Here, the eyebrows form a single wavy line. His dhoti has a thick waistbandHe has an elongated neck with deep folds. The cloth over his shoulder is folded into a single narrow piece.

13th-14th century, Southern Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt metal, private collection, photo by Tenzing Asian Art.

This buddha’s slender waist, broad shoulders and big limbs, small rosettes over his ears, black pigment in his hair and tear-shaped urna on his forehead are (almost certainly) the work of a Nepalese artist. The hem of his clothes is decorated with an incised pattern and thick beading, the folds of the robe over his left shoulder are complemented by a highly original floral or raining-jewel pendant. A wheel of dharma is embossed on the sole of each foot.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with silver beaded rim, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The use of rich gilding and stone inlay seems a contradiction with the patchwork robe worn by the historical buddha as part of his vow of poverty, but this was the style favoured by Newari artists, often commissioned by Tibetan patrons during the early Malla period. The seams on the above sanghati are made of silver beading, the hem is incised with a rice grain pattern, one end forms two layers of pleats over his left shoulder.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Lempertz.

A curious figure with heavy eyelids and thick lips, incised hair curls, flat chignon topped with a flat finial. His transparent sanghati has a plain, thick hem, one end of the garment forming two foliate shapes over his left shoulder.

Undated (Pala Revival), Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in  Stockholm (Sweden).



Tibet, Shakyamuni seated (7)

13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze with copper inlay, private collection, photo by Marchance.

The fleshy face with a wide gaze combined with a dark metal alloy recalls earlier Swat Valley works. The figure is seated on a double-lotus base with a petal design typical of (circa) 13th century Tibetan sculptures.

The hem of the sanghati is inlaid with copper only at the front.

13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This buddha with elongated limbs has silver-inlaid eyes, copper inlaid lips,  blue pigment in his hair. His chignon is like a truncated-cone topped with a large lotus bud finial.

13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy and pigment, private collection, photo by Koller.

The use of fire-gilding(widely used in Nepal by the 13th century but not by Tibetan artists), black pigment for the hair, red paint on the plinth, indicate that this was (almost certainly) made by a Newari artist for a Tibetan patron. The shape of the lotus bud finial on his head is unusual.

13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper, cast in one piece, private collection, published on http://www.seercn.com.

This buddha with a large head and Tibetan facial features has a curl of hair on his forehead (urna). The hem of his garments is decorated with beading. One end of the sanghati is folded like a fishtail over his left shoulder.

13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper, is or was at the Jokhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

Here we can clearly see that the head has been cast separately, which usually explains its large size compared to the body. The hem of his robe is decorated with an incised and stippled pattern.

13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

Many brass sculptures worshipped in Tibet, and particularly in Lhasa, have had their face painted with cold cold and pigments, and their hair dyed with blue pigment – usually lapis lazuli powder- but not necessarily at the time they were made.

13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni,  is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The individuality of each piece is perceptible in every detail, even the shape of the hair and the lotus bud on the chignon.

13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt metal, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, same as before.

The cold gold is also applied on the neck and the lotus bud finial.

Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru (6)

Possibly 13th-14th century, Tibet or India?, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This Pala-style figure depicts the most popular of the eight medicine buddhas, seated with his legs locked, his right hand palm out to hold an arura fruit (missing here), the left hand in the meditation gesture and supporting an object, normally a medicine bowl (which has often lost its lid or perhaps never had one). The hem of his robe is decorated with a small triangular pattern imitating sun rays.

Circa 14th century, Tibet or Nepal, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

The Nepalese style includes rich gilding, a lower pedestal and during the 13th-14th century buddhas may have rosettes above their ears. The use of copper alloy rather than copper and blue instead of black pigment in the hair points to a Nepalese artist in Tibet.

18th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy with traces of cold gold, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This late work illustrates changes in the way buddha’s garments are worn.

Described as a lotus and a skull cup, his attributes are in fact a long-stemmed arura fruit in his left hand (whose palm is engraved with a lotus within a diamond shape, matching the lotuses on the hem of his robe) and a bowl in his left hand.

Tibet, Amoghasiddhi – bodhisattva appearance (6)

10th-11th century, Western Tibet, Amoghasiddhi or Vajravidarana, silver with bronze inlay, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

This Kashmiri-style masterpiece was originally thought to be a portrait of Vajravidarana, who holds a visvajra in the right hand and a bell in the other at hip level. However, the throne supported by a garuda is associated with Amoghasiddhi, who is more likely to have been the object of such an early sculpture. But Amoghasiddhi holds his visvajra in the left hand and doesn’t hold a bell in the other… There are other cases of two deities being depicted in one sculpture, intentionally.

Labelled 10th century (more likely 13th-14th century), Tibet, Amoghasiddhi, clay on wood covered with plaster and paint, at a Tibetan monastery, photo by Fosco Marani.

In Tibet, Amoghasiddhi normally holds his right hand at heart level in the fear-allaying gesture and the other in the meditation gesture.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Amoghasiddhi, copper alloy, at the Palace Museum in Beijing (China).

Undated, Tibet, Amoghasiddhi, gilt metal and stone inlay, at the Dallas Museum of Art (USA).

Tibet, peaceful Vajrapani

9th-10th century, Tibet, probably Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

We have seen at least one example of Vajrapani holding a vajra sceptre in his right hand and the tall stem of a lotus in the other, instead of a bell. This figure stands with poise despite unusually broad shoulders and big limbs.

He has Pala-style facial features and accessories.

His short dhoti is richly incised and held in place with a belt decorated with a raining jewel pendant.

12th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This Vajrapani holds a vajra sceptre before his heart and a bell (ghanta) at hip level. He has a knee-length dhoti decorated with an incised lotus pattern  and is adorned with princely jewellery including floral earrings and a necklace with a heart-shaped bead in the middle.

There is an effigy of Akshobhya in his headdress.

There is no gilding at the back of the statue, which probably had a mandorla fastened to it.

12th-13th century (or 18th century?), Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA).

There is a debate as to whether this work actually dates from the 12th-13th century  or whether it is a Pala revival sculpture. The fact is that the sharpness of the petals on the pedestal and the chiselled effect of his plaited hair and of the flowers he holds are not typical of early Tibetan works, and his accessories are a curious mixture of styles and periods.

He is seated with his legs gathered loosely, leaning on his left hand in which he grasps the stem of a lotus. he holds a vajra sceptre horizontally in his right hand.

Tibet, Amitayus – bodhisattva appearance (11)

11th century, Tibet, Amitayus, copper alloy, private collection, Bonhams.

Amitayus is an aspect of Amitabha usually depicted with a bodhisattva appearance.

13th century, Tibet, gilt metal with stone inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

His distinctive attribute is a long-life vase held in both hands.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Amitayus, (labelled Amitabha), at Kangmar, Shigatse (Tibet), photo from the Huntington Archive.

This richly adorned figure sits on a throne supported by a yaksha and two peacocks (Amitabha’s mount).

18th century, Tibet, Amitayus, (parcel) gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Arman Antiques.

The only buddha with a bodhisattva appearance who holds both hands in the meditation gesture is Amitayus. The parcel gilding and the celestial scarf flowing straight upward like the ribbons of the crown correspond to the Tibeto-Chinese style.

18th century, Tibet, Amitayus, parcel gilt metal and silver inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

For the sake of comparison, this Sino-Tibetan style work (made by a Chinese artist for a Tibetan patron) portrays Amitayus with a double chignon topped with a jewel, and an ample lower garment gathered loosely over his legs and most of the pedestal, both of which are also gilt.

18th century, Tibet, Amitayus, copper repoussé, silver and gold inlay, detachable ornaments, private collection, photo by Mossgreen.

Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara (17)

Undated, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, metal with traces of gilding, private collection, photo by Christie’s, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

The most popular four-hand form (chaturbhuja) of Avalokiteshvara, commonly referred to as Shadakshari Lokeshvara, sits with his main hands clasped at hear level to hold a wish-granting gem against his heart.

15th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Lempertz.He holds a rosary  in his right hand and a lotus(missing here) in the other. He may have an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress…

Undated (circa 15th century?), Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt metal with cold gold and pigment, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

… or just the head of Amitabha on his chignon.

The above wears a shawl with an incised pattern his hair is dyed with lapis lazuli powder, his lips are painted with red pigment.

16th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, brass, private collection.

On this unusual sculpture he is seated on a lotus atop a throne covered with a cloth and supported by lions over a lotus base.

17th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, copper alloy, at the Patan Museum (Nepal).

He normally sits in the vajra position.

17th century, Tibet, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection.

This is a rare image of him standing, adorned with jewellery and a billowing scarf with split serpentine ends.

17th-18th century (or earlier?), Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

On this masterpiece we see him seated on a double lotus base with large round petals often seen on earlier works (15th-16th century).

He wears the skin of an animal (deer or antelope) on his left shoulder.