Tibet, various lamas (13)

Circa 13th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy with silver-inlaid eyes and copper inlaid eyes, lips and nails, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi in Homage to the Holy .

The straight hair line and the thick hair tell us that we are looking at fairly young man. He has life-like facial features, delicately rendered hands and nails, diamonds embossed on the sole of his feet, an incised lotus and wavy line pattern on the hem of his clothes.

Circa 13th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi in Homage to the Holy.

Many 13th and 14th century sculptures of a lama on a throne include a brocaded cloth (with a large visvajra motif in this case) and two lions, either sitting, lying or standing sideways. The above are particularly large and outstanding.

13th century, Tibet, lama, copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Almost everything about this work is noteworthy: the use of copper, the cushion with a stippled and incised motif, the rice grain pattern on the back of the throne, the lotuses at shoulder level, the shape of the backplate and the nimbus and the absence of flames on the outer edge, the elongated cranium of the monk, the lotus base with a tall plinth and a single row of undulating petals going downwards.

14th-15th century, Tibet, buddhist monk, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The use of silver inlay gives this character a piercing gaze. The border of his outer garment is inlay with copper and decorated with an incised pattern.

15th-16th century, Tibet, lama, brass with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Tessier-Sarrou, Arts d’Asie 16th December 2019, lot 30.

This Tibetan buddhist teacher holds a flaming jewel in his left hand.

14th-15th century, Tibet, lama, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo Fondation Alain Bordier, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères.

This one has a vase of longevity in the left hand. His silk robe is richly decorated with a chased floral pattern and he has silver-inlaid eyes and copper-inlaid lips. His legs are unlocked and his right foot is showing.

15th-16th century, Tibet, lama, embossed (or repoussé?) copper with cold gold, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , same as before.

The copper repoussé method was preferred for large items such as this one (95 cm tall). The accessories, or in this case the borders of the garments, were made separately.

Circa 18th century, Tibet, lama, gilt and lacquered wood, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 1265 lot 63.

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani – various forms (6)

12th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Nilambara/Nilambadhara Vajrapani brandishes a vajra sceptre in his right hand at head level and holds a bell against his left hip, often upside down. He is usually adorned with nothing but snakes, including a long one to tie his mass of flaming hair.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, brass with pigment and traces of cold gold, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Canda/Chanda Vajrapani is quite similar but with a lasso in his left hand, his fingers making a threatening gesture, as above, or the gesture to ward off evil. On this masterpiece he is adorned with jewellery, wears a tight-fitting tiger skin loin cloth, and has an upright vajra at the top of his mitre-like hair.

14th century, Tibet, Canda Vajrapani, gilt copper with turquoise inlay, photo on Fondation, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

We have seen other examples of him standing on a lotus base including a garuda on a bed of snakes (see on HAR , and here).

15th century, Tibet, Canda Vajrapani, brass with stones, cold gold and pigment, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as above, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Undated (circa 15th century?), Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy (with cold gold, pigment and turquoise), private collection?, photo in an article by Marianne Talma on exarc.net.

Tibet, various arhats (2)

18th century, Tibet, Rahula (labelled ‘monk’), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Asium Auction, 12th December 2016, lot 14.

Rahula is identified by the crown (or tiara) he holds in both hands at heart level. He is often depicted wearing a thick layman’s garment with long sleeves.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Gopaka (labelled ‘unidentified monk’), brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This elderly man is probably Gopaka, the arhat who holds a manuscript in both hands before his heart.

16th century, Tibet, Abheda, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Andrew Lau for Hollywood Galleries on issuu .

18th century, Tibet, Abheda, gilt copper with cold gold and pigment, photo on  Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Arhat Abheda holds a stupa in both hands. On the first picture he is seated with both legs pendant and wears thick felt boots.

17th century, Tibet, Nagasena (labelled ‘lama’), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Millon, Civilisations 20th June 2012, lot 285.

We saw a very similar image of Nagasena in a previous post. He holds a khhakkhara staff in his right hand and a vase in the other.

17th century, Tibet, Pantaka? (labelled ‘monk’), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, London 2009.

Pantaka may do the dharmacakra mudra with his hands while holding a manuscript but in Tibet he usually does the gesture of debate/teaching with his right hand and holds the book (missing here) in the other, as above.

Pala India, Marici

9th century, India, Northeast, Marici, stone, photo by Iris Papadopoulos, at the Museum für Asiatische Kunst in Berlin (Germany).

Identified by the seven sows (drawing the chariot of the Sun) at the front of the pedestal, the goddess of dawn and mercy is depicted in her three-head and six-arm form. She holds her distinctive attributes – a needle and thread – in her lower hands, a bow and an arrow in the middle ones, a vajra sceptre and a branch of ashoka tree in the upper ones. In this case she has three human heads. The large face at the centre of the base is that of Rahu, who embodies the phenomenon of eclipses; a female figure sitting above him is leading the chariot.

9th century, India, Bihar, Marichi, mica schist, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (USA).

Sometimes Marici/Marichi has one human head (the main one) and two sow heads, and usually has an effigy of Vairocana at the front of her chignon.

11th century, India, Marici, brass, photo and details on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

In her kalpoktam form she has three heads (two human ones with three eyes and the head of a sow on the left) and eight arms. She may be seated or standing and the attributes are the same in six of her hands. Other attributes may be a mirror or a hook, although in Northeastern India she sometimes brandishes a sword in her upper right hand.

9th century, India, Bihar, Marici, stone, at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India).

This form of the deity has four female attendants, all with a sow head and four arms. The above is accompanied by two of them standing next two her. A figure with a sow head and two arms sits below her, while another is flying by her left head (which is that of a sow).

Tibet, Shakyamuni seated – bhumisparsha mudra (6)

11th-12th century, probably Western Tibet, Shakyamuni, brass with silver eyes, and copper lips, nails and hem, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

12th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Most Tibetan sculptures show the historical buddha calling Earth to witness his triumph over Mara (who represents evil), thus reaching enlightenment. On these two early examples, the buddha has no lotus bud finial on his hair bun.

12th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

12th-13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This one has a vajra sceptre placed before him at the front of the lotus base.

12th-13th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze with traces of gilding, private collection, photo by Tessier-Sarrou, Art d’Asie 16th December 2019, lot 26.

13th century, Central Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt metal, photo by Ahn-Minh Tran, at the Museo de Arte Orientale in Turin (Italy).

13th-14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères.

14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, brass with silver-inlaid eyes and silver beading, copper inlaid lips, nails and hem, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper with cold gold and pigment, Birman style, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

16th-17th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze, Nº 1998-00213 at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 1492 lot 210.

18th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, zitan wood (red sandalwood), with cold gold, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 5614 lot 322, Paris.

Tibet, Milarepa – variants (6)

14th century, Tibet, Milarepa, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo here , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

An early masterpiece featuring the Tibetan poet and teacher seated in a relaxed manner on an antelope skin atop a lotus seat, his right hand placed near his right ear to listen to ‘the echoes of nature’, his left hand supporting a skull cup. A yogic band decorated with a geometrical pattern is slung over his shoulders and his pierced earlobes indicate that he wore some earrings, now lost.

17th century, Tibet, Milarepa, brass, private collection, photo on Michael Backman Ltd  .

Undated, Tibet, Milarepa, (gilt) brass, photo here , Fondation Alain Bordier, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Circa 18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, painted clay, private collection, photo on Homage to the Holy by Rossi & Rossi.

18th-19th century, Tibet, Milarepa, painted bamboo, private collection, photo by Chiswick Auction, Asian Art 4th September 2018, lot 574.

When not holding a skull cup he usually leans on his left arm. This late work shows him emaciated, and seated on a leopard skin.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

He may be seated with his legs locked.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

On rare occasions his left hand is placed on his knee. We will note the abstract gaze, the large earrings, the broad meditation strap and the garment covering both legs.

18th century, Tibet, Milarepa, wood, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

When not raising his right hand to his ear he has it over his knee and may hold a skull cup in his left hand or lean on his left arm.

15th century or later, Tibet, Milarepa, painted clay?, at the Gyantse Kumbum, photo by Christian Luczanits here.

Alternatively, his left hand may be held to his ear.

Tibet, Padmasambhava (19)

14th century, Tibet, Guru Rimpoche, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Andrew Lau for Hoolywood Galleries on issuu

Padmasambhava seated in the vajra position, his feet protected by thick felt boots, the border of his clothes decorated with a stippled pattern, his main attribute pointing to his heart, the left hand holding a skull cup. On some early works there is no folded flap at the front of the hat and the sun disc and crescent moon symbol is on the central part.

15th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt copper, same as before.

18th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, painted wood, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A richly dressed example adorned with large floral earrings and a short necklace, sporting a thin moustache and goatee. As on the previous work, the vulture feather is missing from his hat. His layman’s outfit usually includes a distinctive cloud-shaped cape.

16th-17th century, Tibet or Bhutan, Padmasambhava, wood, private collection, photo by Andrew Lau on issuu , Hollwood Galleries.

A rare composition featuring the guru seated on a large lotus supported by a long-life vase  atop an inverted lotus.

16th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

18th-19th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, copper repoussé and cast bronze, private collection, photo by Galerie Zacke .

18th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Galerie Zacke .

This unusually irate figure has three vulture feathers on his hat and Chinese-style bushy eyebrows.

16th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Tessier-Sarrou, Arts d’Asie 16th December 2019, lot 32.

The above is seated at ease on a single lotus base with the petals going upwards, his skull cup containing a long-life vase.

17th century, Tibet?, Padmasambhava, gilt bronze with (missing) stones, private collection, photo by Ethereal .

18th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Andrew Lau on issuu , Hollywood Galleries.

A curious depiction of Padmasambhava with a chubby face, wearing a monastic outfit (we have only seen one example before), felt boots and a singular hat, with the distinctive sun disc and crescent moon symbol at the front. He holds his vajra sceptre over his right knee and has a skull cup containing a vase of longevity in his left hand. His ritual staff is missing.

Circa 18th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, polychrome wood with traces of cold gold, private collection, photo on Dorotheum  .

Departing from standard depictions, this late work shows him seated in the royal ease position on a roaring snow lion who turns its head towards him, holding a vajra sceptre above a skull cup.