Mongolia, teachers

Undated (17th or 18th century), Mongolia, Padmasambhava, gilt copper alloy, published in Sattvas and Rajas, the culture and art of Tibet, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

This magnificent work shows Padmasambhava in full attire, wearing his usual lotus hat with a moon and sun symbol at the front and a vulture feather finial on top, some large earrings and a necklace, monastic garments made of silk that wrap his legs and feet completely, a vajra sceptre in his right hand and a skull cup containing a long-life vase in the other, a ritual staff propped against his left shoulder.

17th-18th century, Mongolia, Padmasambhava, lacquered wood, private collection, photo by Artcurial.

The vulture feather and the ritual staff are missing from this sculpture but his distinctive hat and the attributes in his hand are enough to identify him. He is seated on a lotus base with a scalloped petal design also seen on works from Bhutan.

Undated (17th or 18th century), Mongolia, Gelugpa Lama, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Lempertz.

Apart from the outstanding craftsmanship and rich gilding, the Zanabazar school is famous for its innovative lotus base designs. The above belongs to a specific group, round or ovoid, with large upward going petals, usually with lacy contours, overlapping each other and including a series of fan-shaped stamens on the top row. Vertical stamens are engraved just below a row of  large beading.

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Bhutan, a few lamas (2)

17th century, Bhutan, Milarepa, painted clay, photo by Françoise Pommaret.

The Tibetan teacher, poet and saint is identified by his distinctive ‘listening to the echoes of nature’ gesture with the right hand. The begging bowl that goes with it appears to be missing from his left hand.

Possibly 18th century, Bhutan, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal Rinpoche, copper alloy, at the Asiatic Society in Kolkota (India).

This large work (1m80 high) depicts the founder of the Bhutanese state, Ngawang Namgyal (1594-1651) coiffed with an impressive Drukpa Kagyu hat (he was born into a Tibetan family who ruled the Drukpa Kagyupa order), his abundant facial hair painted black, the left hand calling Earth to witness, the other in the meditation gesture.

17th-18th century, Bhutan, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, gilt bronze (copper alloy), photo by Chiswick auctions.

We see him here as an older man.

18th-19th century, Bhutan, Karmapa, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

Unlike their Tibetan equivalent, most of the Bhutanese sculptures of lamas depict them with facial hair.

Undated, Bhutan, Kagyu Drukpa lama, painted wood, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Tibet, various lamas (9)

13th century, Tibet, Kagyu lama, possibly Sanggye Yarjon, silver, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Early Tibetan sculptures usually depict lamas dressed in thick garments, often patched up, including a meditation cloak covering their back and knees, one or both feet showing.

This teacher with generous facial features, thick hair and a thin beard does the fear-allaying gesture with his right hand.

13th century, Tibet, lama, bronze, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

This rare works depicts a lama seated on a lotus atop a Kashmiri-style lion throne covered with a cloth and decorated with visvajras.

16th century, Tibet, lama, bronze, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

Probably an important teacher, since he holds a long-life vase in his left hand and a flaming jewel in the other. His lower garment is pleated over his breast and fastened with a girdle.

The outer robe is decorated with embossed lotuses and incised floral motifs.

16th-17th century, Tibet, lama, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Koller.

Unlike most, this Tibetan teacher has an urna on his forehead.

15th-16th century, Tibet, lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

From the late 15th century onwards, lamas are often portrayed with sumptuous clothes made of soft Chinese silk with thick embroidered hems.

16th century, Tibet, lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

17th-18th century, Tibet, lama, gilt copper alloy, at the British Museum in London (UK).

Here the silk is embroidered throughout except for the border, and both feet are covered.

17th-18th century, Tibet, lama, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Lempertz

 

 

Tibet, lamas on single lotus base (2)

15th century, Tibet, lama, gilt copper alloy, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

This elderly lama is seated on a single lotus base with large petals going upwards, a design which normally includes a plain rim below.

15th-16th century, Central Tibet, Kagyu lama, brass, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Probably made in a Tsang province atelier, this masterpiece depicts a lama coiffed with an embroidered Kagyu lama hat. He has silver-inlaid eyes and the border of his garments is decorated with an incised floral pattern. The Yongle-style lotus base with a plain plinth and elongated petals going downwards between two rows of beading is typical of the period.

Late 16th century, Tibet, lama, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This is an unusual design, with thick beading at the bottom and the lotus petals almost horizontal and topped with a cushion.

17th-18th century, Tibet, gilt bronze (copper alloy), at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

The way this lama wears his pointed cap flat over his head could indicate that he was a translator. He holds a manuscript in his left hand while doing the teaching gesture with the other. The tall rim and large upward going petals is a design often seen on circa 18th century Tibetan sculptures.

18th century, Tibet, lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This one holds a large round jewel (cintimani).

17th century, Tibet, Nyingmapa master, purple sandalwood, private collection, photo by Far East Asian Art.

Sculptures made of red sandalwood (also known by its Chinese name, zitan) seem to have been popular in Tibet from the 17th century onwards. They are usually decorated with cold gold.

18th century, Tibet, Nyingpa lama, gilt bronze (copper alloy) private collection, photo by Arcimboldo.

This fully-bearded character holds a long-life vase.

Tibet, lamas on cushion (4)

15th-16th century, Tibet, lama, gilt bronze (copper alloy), at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

A Chinese-style work depicting a Buddhist teacher seated on a lion skin covered with a silk cloth, atop three brocaded cushions (which indicates that the sculpture may have been made during his lifetime or shortly after).

16th-17th century, Tibet, lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Here we have two embroidered cushions, covered with an antelope skin. The youthful lama with thick black hair holds a long life vase with both hands.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Kagyu lama, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

A single plump cushion, covered with a large cloth on which there is a small antelope or deer skin. The lama holds a flaming jewel in his left hand.

Late 17th century, Tibet, lama, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Cambi.

This lama’s face has been painted with gold cold. He sits on two cushions wrapped in a blanket.

17th-18th century, Tibet, lama, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Lempertz.

17th-18th century, Tibet, lama, gilt bronze (copper alloy), same as before.

18th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel.

The expressive lines on this character’s face are meant to indicate his age. He is dressed in full monastic attire including a meditation cloak. His hands, held in the meditation gesture, may have held a vase.

18th century, Tibet, lama, gilt metal, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

This one holds a manuscript in his left hand.

 

 

Tibet, lamas on double lotus base (2)

14th century, Tibet, Tsang province, lama, copper alloy, Navin Kumar collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

This Tibetan teacher holds a small bowl between his hands.

The border of his garments is richly incised with a floral pattern.

Circa 1400, Tibet, lama, gilt copper alloy on a copper alloy base, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

Few lamas are depicted with a beard – usually short and worn below the chin, as above.

Circa 15th century, Tibet, lama, brass with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This remarkable work depicts a lama seated in a relaxed manner, his hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘.

His large eyes are inlaid with silver.

He has silvered hair and his patched garments are inlaid with copper and silver.

15th century, Tibet, lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Marchance.

16th century, Tibet, lama, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Mossgreen.

16th century, Tibet, lama, gilt copper and cold gold, private collection, photo by Koller.

16th-17th century, Tibet, ascetic monk, gilt bronze (copper alloy), at Harvard Art Museums (USA).

16th-17 century, Tibet, lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

17th century, Tibet, lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Tibet, various lamas (8)

Circa 1350, Tibet, Drapga Sengge, parcel-gilt silver, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The 13th century teacher is seated on a lotus over a stepped throne supported by Yakshas and decorated with vajra sceptres and gems, a style particularly popular during 14th century Tibet. The back plate is partly painted red and partly inlaid with turquoise. The flaming mandorla has an inner row of petals and three rows of beading, the outer one offset with a floral design and turquoise cabochons at head level.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Chogyal Pagpa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

At first glance this looks like a standard portrait of a lama in monastic garments but his left foot is below his right leg instead of being locked in the vajra position.

16th century, Tibet, probably Tsang province, Choleg, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This masterpiece depicts a teacher seated in a relaxed manner, displaying silver-inlaid lotuses on the palm of his hands and the soles of his feet, ‘the mark of a virtuous and enlightened being’ according to Bonhams. Unfortunately, the inscription on the back of the statue does not provide the full name of this personage.

16th century, Tibet, bshadgrubdma dpalkong mchanchan, bronze (copper alloy) with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This lama holds a long-life vase in his left hand and displays the teaching gesture with the other.

16th century, Tibet, probably Tsang province, Chokyong Paljor, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

A lively image of a deified lama holding a flaming triple gem (triratna) in his left hand.

He has silver-inlaid eyes and a painted beard. The manuscript is topped with a pearl.

His garment is decorated with incised symbols, clouds and flowers in the manner of the Tsang province ateliers.

There is an inscription around the base and two loops on the back to fit a (now lost) flaming mandorla.