A fine and very rare gilt-bronze Densatil 'Buddha' frieze Ming dynasty, 14th / 15th century
Lot 415
A fine and very rare gilt-bronze Densatil 'Buddha' frieze
Ming dynasty, 14th / 15th century
HK$ 800,000 - 1.2 million
US$ 100,000 - 150,000
Lot Details
A fine and very rare gilt-bronze Densatil 'Buddha' frieze
Ming dynasty, 14th / 15th century
The rectangular frieze heavily cast in high relief depicting a series of seated Buddha figures arranged in six rows of size increasing towards the bottom, each seated cross-legged atop a lotus pedestal with the hands in dhyanamudra, the serene facial expression in deep meditation, framed by curly hair revealing the usnisha at the top, wearing a loose robe swung over the left shoulder partially revealing the bare chest, the central cartouche with a flaming mandorla, the sides cast with two elegant dancing goddesses playing drums, each standing atop a lotus lappet pedestal in relaxed dancing posture, wearing a headdress, large disk earrings, necklace and long dhotis with a sash leaving the chest bare.
37.8cm wide. x 9.5cm deep.

Footnotes

  • 明十四/十五世紀 丹薩替寺铜鎏金万佛仙女饰板

    The spiritual teacher Pagmodrupa Dorje Gyalpo was one the three main disciples of Gampopa Sonam Rinchen who established the Dagpo Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. He was also the disciple of Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158) who was one of the much revered founders of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. Pagmodrupa Dorje Gyalpo travelled to the Northern banks of the Tsangpo river in Tibet in the twelfth century. Pupils gathered at his side to form a simple monastery originally of grass huts, but after his death in 1170 the monastic complex was enlarged and a temple built to become a centre for the Kagyu sect. This became known as the Densatil monastery.

    From the mid fourteenth century, Densatil was ruled by the Phagmogrupa family, one of the most powerful ruling families of the time. The family sought to extend its influence with a series of high-level gift exchanges with the Chinese Emperors, and eventually they came to rule almost all of Tibet. Their wealth and influence is attested by the astonishingly high quality of art produced under their patronage, where the Densatil monastery became one of the richest in Tibet, and was renowned in particular for its gilt metalwork and paintings by Newar artists from Nepal. Such pieces attained such high level of craftsmanship and quality that they can be viewed as being as close to 'Imperial' commissions as was possible in Tibet at the time.

    The complex at Densatil was destroyed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, but evidence of its artistic importance and influence can be seen in the records of the Italian traveller Giuseppe Tucci following his visit in 1948, and in the black and white photographs taken by the Italian photographer Pietro Francesco Mele who accompanied Tucci on the 1948 expedition: see P.Mele, Tibet, Calcutta, 1975.

    Friezes such as the present lot would once have decorated towards the upper part of the stupa at Densatil, where eighteen large funerary reliquaries contained the mortal remains of the religious and political leaders of the Phagmogrupa (fig.1).

    For other examples of Densatil friezes sold at auction, compare another similar frieze sold in these rooms, 27 May 2012, lot 281; and another in our London rooms, 8 November 2012, lot 260.

    丹薩替寺是帕竹噶舉派最早的主寺,又是從帕竹噶舉派分出的八個支派的母寺,宗教地位極高。帕木竹巴一名來源於藏傳佛教噶舉派創始人多吉傑布,因其在帕木竹建寺傳教,後被稱為「帕木竹巴•多吉傑布」。明代是帕竹政權的興盛時期,其勢力日益擴大的同時,亦多次受到明朝皇帝的認可和冊封,帕竹政權最後擴大至幾乎整個西藏地區。丹薩替寺佛造像風格特殊,其供奉形式不像一般佛像供在佛龕或神壇,而是供奉在舍利靈塔的塔身四周,其佛造像背面多帶有可能原來用於固定在塔身的固件。根據施羅德所著,《西藏佛教塑像》,第二卷,頁1009,所著錄丹薩替寺舍利塔照片判斷,此塊飾板可能曾用於裝飾舍利塔上半部分(fig.1)。

    丹薩替寺佛造像傳世品較少,參看香港邦瀚斯2012年5月27日售出一件丹薩替寺四供養天女雕刻飾板,編號281以及倫敦邦瀚斯2012年11月8日售出另一件類似品,編號260,兩件均為丹薩替寺舍利塔下部分裝飾固件,但其鑄造風格與本品類似。
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