A thangka of Kurukulla,  Central Tibet, Late 17th/Early 18th century
Lot 1108
A thangka of Kurukulla, Central Tibet, Late 17th/Early 18th century
Sold for US$ 50,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
A thangka of Kurukulla,  Central Tibet, Late 17th/Early 18th century A fine Tibetan thangka of Vajravarah, Central Tibet, Late 17th/Early 18th century A fine Tibetan thangka of Kurukulla, Central Tibet, Late 17th/Early 18th century A fine Tibetan thangka of Vajravarah, Central Tibet, Late 17th/Early 18th century A fine Tibetan thangka of Vajravarah, Central Tibet, Late 17th/Early 18th century A fine Tibetan thangka of Vajravarah, Central Tibet, Late 17th/Early 18th century
Property from another collection
A thangka of Kurukulla,
Central Tibet, Late 17th/Early 18th century
Distemper on cloth and framed by original silks; Red in color with one face, two eyes, black hair curling to the sides and four hands, she has a slightly fierce expression with a gaping mouth and bared fangs. In the first pair of hands are a bow and arrow aimed to the left. The second hold a hook in the right and a lasso with gold vajra tips in the left. Adorned with a tiara of five white skulls, earrings, bracelets and a necklace of heads each tied by the hair, she wears a red scarf and tiger skin skirt bound with a red sash. The right leg is drawn up in a dancing posture and the left foot presses on a red and gold disc over a prone corpse and pink lotus platform. She is completely surrounded by the red jagged flames of pristine awareness and large gilt-edges leaves and massive blossom buds.

The surrounding composition is painted in a receding landscape of rock mountains, waterfall and rivers. A Panchen lama seated upper right and Amitayus on upper left. Takkiraja in union with his consort is at the bottom center, flanked by skull offering cups brimming with nectar and the five senses on the left and a corpse being stripped by a vulture on the right.

An ink inscription on the top back of the textile mount reads - gyas bzhi pa. kurukulle. 'Right Four. Kurukulla.'
Image: 27 x 11 in. (68.6 x 27.9 cm.)

Footnotes

  • The style of the painting is from the central Tibetan monastery Tashi Lhunpo and is very much in keeping with the gifts of paintings given by the 3rd Panchen Lama to the emperor of China in the mid 18th century. A set depicting many of the major deities of the Gelug order, likely based on the Rinjung Lhantab collection of deities or something similar.

    Compare with a closely related thangka in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (acc. #1959-38-4, Gift of Stella Kramrisch, 1959) where she dances upon an sun disc crushing an almost identical form of Mahadeva. Both are are surrounded by the same figures, scenes, and ritual objects, with the exception of the Haygriva which is absent in the Philadephia thangka. Also Compare with another thangka of Kurukulla with Changya Rolpai Dorje in the upper section in the Collection of Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.(F1905.75) and another in the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, see Bartholomew in Orientations: Art of Tibet, 1998, fig. 9, p. 36.

    Provenance:
    Dr. Ernest Herzfeld
    Private Collection, USA

    Old small paper label with purple border is inscribed: 'Kulakala, Col. Herzfeld'. Herzfeld was primarily a scholar in the field of Japanese Swords and he traveled to Asia extensively in the 1950's. However, it was his wife Desiree who had a passion for India and Tibet, and it is likely that she acquired the thangka during one of these trips.
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