Tibet, Shakyamuni – seated (22)

12th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection?, photo on Artkhade

This Indo-Tibetan masterpiece depicts the historical buddha with a very large lotus bud finial on his chignon, his right hand calling Earth to witness his enlightenment. There is no cloth folded over his left shoulder but we can see that a piece of the garment rests across his left arm, a common feature in Tibet.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni (labelled ‘Akshobhya’), copper alloy, with copper inlay and pigments, photo by VAN HAM.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper alloy with copper-inlaid seam, private collection, photo by Koller, sale A187AS.

Two buddhas with a large raised urna above their unibrow and a sanghati with a copper-inlaid hem decorated with an incised geometrical pattern, a recurrent feature in 13th and 14th century Tibet, usually featuring a rice grain or a lotus motif.

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 105 China 1.

A simpler way of decorating the hem, without the copper inlay. Note the ‘swallow tail’ over the left shoulder, the delicate hands and the oblong urna at the centre of the unibrow. We can see a raised wheel of dharma on the sole of his right foot.

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze with copper inlay, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 104 China 2.

Two noteworthy features here are the way the cloth drops almost vertically across the left arm and the short and broad ‘swallow tail’ arranged over the shoulder and down the arm.

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Drouot.

A sanghati with a wavy pattern on the hem.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze with copper and turquoise inlay, at the MAAS in Sydney (Australia).

Shakyamuni wearing a patched robe with beaded seams, a floral pattern engraved on each patch, the border decorated with a geometrical motif, seated on a rare lotus base with an incised two-tier plinth.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by F. Gousset for aaoarts.

With two layers of clothing clearly visible and thick pleating over his left shoulder.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze with traces of gilding, private collection, photo by Koller.

17th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Mossgreen.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigment, private collection, photo by Koller, sale A189AS.

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Tibet, shakyamuni – metal variants (4)

13th-14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Amita Gallery.

The use of silver inlay for the eyes came to Tibet via Kashmiri and Indian artists, who didn’t normally apply gilding to their works.

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

In parts of Tibet (such as the Ngari area in Western Tibet), plain copper alloy was often decorated with a stippled and/or incised motif, such as the lotus flowers on this buddha’s sanghati and the geometrical pattern on the hem.

14th century, Tibet, metal (brass with copper inlay and pigments), private collection, photo on HAR

On many 13th and 14th century Tibetan brass sculptures the garments (of buddhas, bodhisattvas and lamas) have a copper-inlaid and incised border. This buddha’s robe has a floral motif. A different decoration has been used for the folds over his shoulders (see close up here). There are traces of cold gold on his face and neck. His nails are also inlaid with copper.

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt metal with painted face and hair, Sonam Gyaltsen and atelier, private collection, photo on HAR

Richly gilt and stone-inlaid works such as those found at the Densatil monastery and others attributed to Sonam Gyaltsen (whose atelier was in the Tsang province) and his followers is due to the influence of Newari artists from the Kathmandu Valley. But before that, the Newars already used (cold) gold to adorn wooden statues. One example is the famous sandalwood statue of Avalokiteshvara known as ‘Phagpa Lokeshvara’ at the Potala’ (see article by Ian Alsop) which may date from the 7th century.

Tibet, Shakyamuni – seated (21)

14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Hardt

An unusual image of the historical buddha seated on a Pala-style lotus base with incised (rather than modelled) beading, the hem of his sanghati decorated with a triangular pattern, his smiling face painted with cold gold, a lotus bud finial on his chignon.

14th century, Tibet or India, Shakyamuni, bronze, private collection, photo on Hardt as before.

Quite a different image with a serene face, thick hair curls, a lobed abdomen and large nipple, seated on a base with no apparent lotus petals, the hem of his clothes roughly incised.

14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, metal, private collection, photo on HAR 

With painted facial features, the eyes rendered in the Indian Pala style, the hem of his sanghati incised with a semi-circular motif, the edge of his undergarments showing next to it.

14th century, Western Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo by Koller, sale W245AS.

The way the fingers of the left hand are held suggests that this buddha held a begging bowl.

14th century, Central Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze with copper inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, Arts d’Asie, Paris, December 2018.

With a lotus print on the border of his copper-inlaid robe, his hair dyed with lapis lazuli powder, the hands and nails modelled in a naturalistic manner.

14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, metal (gilt copper alloy), private collection, photo on HAR

14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni (labelled ‘Akshbhya’), gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, Arts d’Asie Paris June 2019.

With a vajra sceptre before him on the lotus base to symbolise his moment of enlightenment, his face painted with cold gold.

14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, metal (gilt copper alloy), private collection, photo on HAR

With square shoulders and an elongated torso, wearing a patched robe with beaded seams, a chubby face with large slanted eyes.

Undated (circa 13th-14th century?), Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Ravenel.

With part of the sanghati dropping vertically at the front instead of resting over the left arm.

14th c., Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt metal, Nagel-Auktion-710_0832-3

14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 710.

With a long row of pleats over the left shoulder and the lower part of his garments gathered in a scallop shape under his ankles.

13th-14th century (or later?), Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Armand Antiques

Wearing a robe with a broad hem incised with a solar motif, seated on a tall waisted lotus base with large rounded petals.

Circa 15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze with pigment, photo on Nagel .

Gandhara, Shakyamuni (4)

3rd-5th century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, bronze, private collection, photo on Grand Art

A rare statue of the historical buddha on a plinth atop a lotus flower, its cylindrical stem now missing.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, grey schist, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Shakyamuni with soft wavy hair gathered in a meringue-like pointed bun, a solar disc behind his head, seated on a throne covered with a cloth, dressed in a pleated garment that covers both shoulders, one end held in front of him in his left hand, the right hand doing the fear-allaying gesture and displaying a tiny wheel embossed in his palm.

Undated, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, stucco, found at Nimogram, photo by Joan Raducha on wisc.edu

A different style, with thick lips, bulging eyes, a round hair bun, both hands in the meditation gesture and covered by his garment, with pleats roughly incised and going diagonally across the chest.

Undated, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, stucco, found at Nimogram, photo by Joan Raducha on wisc.edu

Here the robe doesn’t cover the hand and it has concentric pleats, the hair bun is smoother. On both images the hair locks are stippled rather than modelled.

Undated, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, black schist, found at Nimogram, photo by Joan Raducha, on wisc.edu

On this stone item, the artist has made very elegant pleats on the sanghati, in the Greco-buddhist style.

4th-5th century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, stucco, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The sculpture on the left depicts the historical buddha doing the gesture of meditation with the right hand resting in the palm of the left hand, his robe arranged in horizontal pleats over his ankles, his wavy hair gathered in a bun. The other depicts him with the right hand holding the left hand, his robe arranged in diagonal pleats over his ankles, his wavy hair coiled in a bun.

2nd-3rd, Gandhara, Parinirvana Buddha relief panel, grey schist, private collection, photo on Roseberys

An unusual depiction of the historical buddha on his death bed, his left hand between his head and the pillow, the right hand leaning on the couch.

India, early buddhas

5th century, India, Sarnath, miniature stupa on lotus with seated Buddha, stone, at the Archaeological Museum in Sarnath (India).

Siddharta Gautama, seated ‘the European way’ on a throne supported by a lotus, his hands turning the wheel of dharma symbolically, his transparent sanghati covering both shoulders.

6th century, India, Sarnath, Buddha, stone, at the Archaeological Museum in Sarnath (India).

6th-7th century, India, Post-Gupta, later Sarnath style, Shakyamuni, bronze with silver and copper inlay, at the Met in New York (USA).

A smooth figure with silver-inlaid eyes and urna, copper inlaid lips, hem and cushion, seated on a rocky formation with a lion at the front atop a base with legs. The right hand does the gesture of supreme generosity, the other is in the meditation position and holds a piece of his robe, which covers only one shoulder and leaves the right arm bare.

7th-8th century, India, possibly Nalanda, Post-Gupta, Shakyamuni, bronze, private collection, photo on Galerie Hioco

 

Nepal, standing buddhas (2)

7th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, bronze, at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (USA).

7th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, bronze, at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (USA).

Two Gupta-style buddhas wearing a diaphanous robe that covers both shoulders, the right hand held palm out to signify supreme generosity, the other holding a piece of the garment at waist level.

7th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, bronze, at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (USA).

Complete with lotus pedestal and flaming halo, his left hand at shoulder level.

8th-9th century, Nepal, Buddha as a child, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Carter’s

the infant buddha is a recurrent them in ancient Chinese sculpture but rare in the Himalayas.

Kashmir, seated buddhas (8)

Unlabelled (Kashmir, Shakyamuni, brass with silver-inlaid eyes and urna), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources   

The historical buddha is seated on a double-lotus seat whose petals are like artichoke leaves with the tip upturned. This and the concentric pleats of his sanghati recall several 7th century Kashmiri works seen in previous posts yet there are quite a few different elements. For instance, the way the cloth forms a straight line across the chest and over the left shoulder, the large flat nipples (one of them showing through the transparent garment), the throne supported by two lions lying sideways and, instead of the usual yaksha, the upper part of a crowned figure who holds a skull cup containing a flaming jewel (see close up on the above link).  

7th-8th century, Kashmir (labelled ‘India’), Shakyamuni, bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold and pigments (and silver-inlaid eyes), at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

This buddha also holds a piece of his robe in front of him (rather than to the left side as was often the case on Karkota dynasty sculptures) and his skin has been painted with cold gold all over, suggesting worship in China (rather than Tibet, where only the face would be painted).

8th century, Kashmir, Fasting Buddha, ivory, at the Cleveland Museum of Art (USA).

Siddharta Gautama appears three times on this small (12 cm) yet detailed sculpture. At the centre, seated with his legs locked and his hands in the meditation gesture, naked and terribly emaciated after a long fast. On the left of the viewer, in an awkward yogic posture, his head turned away from the bowl of rice a woman below is offering him. On the other side, less emaciated now that he has given up the fast, and wearing a sanghati, indicating that he has reached enlightenment. He is seated with both legs pendant and holds a begging bowl in his left hand, his mouth wide open to take the food he has accepted from a devotee. Above him a group of demons tormenting him, a couple of yogis (probably the two hermits he converted to buddhism after his fast), and some celestial beings. Below his rocky seat, a crowd of people holding bowls, and some animals including at least one cow. See articles by David Rumsey and Washington City on the subject.