Tibet, Karmapas (6)

14th century, Tibet, karmapa, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

This endearing figure is coiffed with the lotus hat worn by Karma Kagyu hierarchs, traditionally black and decorated with a visvajra (or a lozenge representing a visvajra) on the front panel, and clouds at the side. The border of his monastic garments is incised with a wavy pattern.

16th century, Tibet, karmapa, copper with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Tessier Sarrou.

To confuse the issue, this character wears a red lotus hat associated with other hierarchs (such as shamarpas and situpas) and traditionally decorated with jewels at the front, but his displays a visvajra.

17th-18th century, Tibet, labelled ‘possibly the first karmapa’, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Castor Hara.

The first five karmapas are thought to have worn a small black cap before the black lotus hat became their headdress (see the Himalayan Art Resources page on Hats of the Himalayas). This personage wears an ornate foliate crown with rosettes and ribbons, a half-vajra finial on top of his head, beaded jewellery and a ritual apron over his ample silk garments. He holds a vajra and ghanta crossed over his heart. The sculpture probably depicts him performing a ritual ceremony.

 

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Tibet, various dalai lamas (2)

16th-17th century, Tibet, possibly the 2nd dalai lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

He holds a book in his left hand and does the teaching gesture with the other. The lotuses on each side support a vajra sceptre and a vajra-handled bell (ghanta). His voluminous silk garments are decorated with an incised border.

Undated (circa 16th century?), Tibet, Gendun Gyatso (2nd dalai lama), gilt metal, at the Tibet House museum in Lhasa (Tibet).

16th-17th century, Tibet, Gendun Gyatso, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonham’s.

17th century, Tibet, Gendun Gyatso, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Circa 18th century, Tibet, 3rd dalai lama, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

The third dalai lama is depicted with a pointed hat and plain monastic garments. There is a vajra sceptre in his right hand and a ghanta in the other.

Late 17th century, Tibet, 5th dalai lama, gilt bronze (copper alloy), at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

This vivid portrait of the fifth dalai lama shows him holding a dharma wheel  in the palm of his left hand.

18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, 5th dalai lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.Here, the face is painted with cold gold and pigments and the hair dyed black. The prong in his left hand is all that remains from the object he once held (a book according to Sotheby’s). The seams of his patched robe are incised with a floral pattern and his cloak is decorated with dragons, the latter indicating that the piece was made for a Chinese patron.

Tibet, Tsongkhapa (4)

Circa 1423, Tibet, Ganden Chokor Monastery, Tsongkhapa, gilt copper alloy, in The Mystical Arts of Tibet, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

The founder of the Gelugpa order may be depicted under various forms. The main one is that of a monk seated in the vajra position, wearing a pandita hat, his hands turning the wheel of dharma.

15th century, Tibet, Tsongkhapa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

He holds the stem of two lotuses, one supporting the hilt of a sword and the other a manuscript.

The above flaming sword is made of silver or iron and the manuscript is made of lapis lazuli.

His heavy patched robe is decorated with an engraved floral pattern, stippled, engraved and beaded hems.

15th century, Tibet, Tsongkhapa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Bonhams.

On early sculptures one of the lotuses may of the blue variety (utpala), which never fully opens.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Tsongkhapa, gilt copper repoussé and cast parts, at the Freer Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC (USA).

When he is not wearing the pointed cap of the Gelugpa order, his hair is often dyed black. The above has cold gold and pigments on his face. He holds the stem of fully open lotuses fastened at shoulder level.

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

In many cases the lotuses have leaves or tendrils that spring from his elbows

18th century, Tibet, Tsongkhapa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The manuscript to his left may be topped with a flaming pearl.

 

 

Tibet, Milarepa (10)

14th century, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Many images of Milarepa show him seated at ease, his right hand raised to his ear, the left hand supporting a skull cup. The above holds a long-life vase. He wears the usual loosely wrapped garment, spiral earrings, bracelets and yogic band. We saw a similar image from the Navin Kumar collection on the Himalayan Art Resources website (see link in left margin), reproduced below for comparison, with a added views.

14th century, Tibet, bronze, private collection.

Previously labelled 14th century, it is now labelled 16th century (1500-1599) and attributed to a Tsang province atelier in Central Tibet. Note the floral motif on the strap, sculpted rather than engraved, and the five strands of hair with a rounded edge at the back.

Undated (circa 16th century), Tibet, Milarepa, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Milarepa may be seated on an antelope skin placed over the lotus base.

16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, copper alloy with turquoise inlay, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA).

The position of his right hand varies, sometimes the palm is placed away from his ear.

 

 

Tibet, Tsongkhapa (3)

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

An endearing portrait of the 14th century Tibetan lama Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelugpa order, without the pandita hat, his face painted with cold gold and pigments.

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

As is customary in Tibet, the lama’s right arm is bare.

The blue lotuses on each side of him support the hilt of a sword and a manuscript topped with a pearl.

16th century, Tibet, Tsongkhapa, gilt copper, Nyingjei Lam collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

His hands do the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture.

Late 18th century, Tibet, Tsongkhapa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (UK).

He holds the stem of lotuses fastened to his elbows and shoulders.

18th century, Tibet, Tsongkhapa, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Koller.

When depicted as a lama on a lotus base, his legs are always locked in the vajra position.

18th century, Tibet, Tsongkhapa, gilt bronze (copper alloy) and cold gold, private collection.

Traditionally he wears a peaked cap with long flaps over the ears known as pandita hat.

Tsongkhapa, Tibet, 18th century, gilt copper, at the national gallery in Prague (Czech Republic).

He is normally portrayed with bare feet.

16th century or later (probably later), Tibet, Tsongkhapa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Lempertz.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Tsong Khapa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, same as before.

18th century, Tibet, Tsongkhapa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection.

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.

 

Bhutan, a few lamas

17th century, Bhutan, Drukpa lama, possibly Damcho Pekar, bronze (copper alloy), at the Liverpool Museum (UK).

This lama, possibly the 4th Je Khenpo (the senior religious authority of Bhutan), has an elongated torso typical of the 17th century and a moveable head and right arm. He holds a manuscript in his left hand and does the gesture of debate/teaching with the other, displaying a diamond incised in his palm. His patched robe is decorated with an incised floral pattern.

17th-18th century, Bhutan, Drukpa lama, Tenzin Rabgye, gilt copper alloy on a more recent brass base, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

A portrait of the 4th Druk Desi of Bhutan (an administrative ruler), dressed in fine silk garments with an incised motif and wearing the Drukpa Kagyu hat. His hands do the ‘turning the wheel of dharma’ gesture.

18th century, Bhutan, Drukpa lama Mipam Tanpa’i  (Mipham Tenpa’i), wood, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Mipham Tenpa’i (1567-1619) is portrayed here with a distant gaze, almost like a buddha. His left hand does the meditation gesture while the other is ‘calling Earth to witness’. His clothes and face have been painted with cold gold, the hair and facial features with pigments.

18th century, Bhutan, Drukpa lama, wood, same as before.

On the contrary, this lama has been given very life-like facial features. He wears sumptuous Chinese silk garments including a meditation cloak.