Tibetan Five-panel Ritual Crown, 14th/15th century, gilt-tooled leather
Lot 1105
A five leaf ritual crown Tibet, late 14th early/15th century
US$ 25,000 - 35,000
£15,000 - 21,000
Auction Details
A five leaf ritual crown Tibet, late 14th early/15th century Tibetan Five-panel Ritual Crown, 14th/15th century, gilt-tooled leather
Lot Details
Property from the Estate of Ralph Benkaim
A five leaf ritual crown
Tibet, late 14th early/15th century
Each leaf has an image of one of the five Tathagata Buddhas against a blue background. From left to right: Amitabha, Akshobhya, Vairochana, Ratnasambhava and Amoghasiddhi. Each is seated on tooled foliate throne and prabhamandala containing the protector animals: peacocks, elephants, snow lions, horses and kinnaras in consecutive order. The corresponding attribute for each tathagata, framed by a gold ring against a red ground, is on the reverse of each leaf.
Each leaf 7¼ x 4¼ in. (18.4 x 10.8 cm)


  • These types of crowns are worn during initiation empowerments and rituals. The five petal-like segments represent the Five Tathagata Buddhas of the five directions: Amitabha, Vairochana, Akshobhya, Ratnasambhava and Amoghasiddhi. On the verso of each leaf are the corresponding attributes of each tathagata. The crown initiation symbolizes the transmutation of the initiate's five body-mind systems (mirroring, sensational, conceptual, emotional and cognitive) and the five positions (delusion, pride, lust, envy, and hate) into the five transcendental buddhas (Amitabha, Vairocana, Akshobhya, Ratnasambhava and Amoghasiddhi). This crown is worn after blessing, visualizing, and lustrating, as a symbolic seal of the initiate's abandoning the notion of oneself as an ordinary, perfect being, and that adoption of the buddha-pride, the sense of oneself as a purified, enlightened Buddha, every atom itself becomes wisdom.

    Compare with two images of Vairocana dated to the 14th century in the Rubin Museum of Art. Vairochana Buddha (himalayanart.org 610). Each employ a heavy black outline of the features and the surrounding prabhamandala is similar scrolling foliate form and the treatment of the robes of the attending figures is almost identical. Also compare with the crown types, double-banded jewelry, and textiles found in the Vairochana Buddha - Sarvavid with 1000 Buddhas (himalayanart.org 281)

    Compare with a closely related crown with an allover gilt frame in Tingley, buddhas, Crocker Museum of Art, 2009, 90, pl. 26.  Also compare another complete Nepalese crown, in poor condition, dated to the late 14th/early 15th century formerly in the Kronos Collection, see Flame and Lotus, no. 31 and a single leaf from Tibet in the Metropolitan Museum, now dated to the late 13th/early 14th century (1997.52). Other related examples are found in; Reynolds. Tibetan Collection (Newark), no. P6; Orientations, October 1998, 62; Field Museum, Chicago in Menzies, Goddess, 2006, no. 149 and Huntington and Bangdel, Circle of Bliss, no. 62; Brauen, Mandala, Rubin Museum of Art, 2009, 216.

    Private Collection, Los Angeles
    Purchased 2003 from Jeff Rockwell
    Acquired Kathmandu 1970s
  1. Customer Services & Bids (New York)
    Customer Services
    Work +1 212 644 9001
    FaxFax: +1 212 644 9009
  2. Asian Art (US)
    General Enquiries
    Work +1 415 503 3358
    FaxFax: +1 415 503 3300