A gilt copper alloy figure of Buddha Tibet, probably Densatil, early 15th century
Lot 16
A gilt copper alloy figure of Buddha
Tibet, probably Densatil, early 15th century
Sold for US$ 461,000 inc. premium
Auction Details
A gilt copper alloy figure of Buddha Tibet, probably Densatil, early 15th century A gilt copper alloy figure of Buddha Tibet, probably Densatil, early 15th century A gilt copper alloy figure of Buddha Tibet, probably Densatil, early 15th century A gilt copper alloy figure of Buddha Tibet, probably Densatil, early 15th century A gilt copper alloy figure of Buddha Tibet, probably Densatil, early 15th century
Lot Details
A gilt copper alloy figure of Buddha
Tibet, probably Densatil, early 15th century
In the meditative pose of dhyana mudra with thumb tips touching to represent the 'mind of enlightenment', the Buddha wears a cape-like diaphanous robe drawn across his body forming a perfect curve at the neck and terminating with a raised waved hemline at the back.
10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm) high

Footnotes

  • The prototype of this form of the Buddha, wearing a smooth full cape-like robe (sanghati), can be traced to 4th/5th century Indian stone steles, such as the standing Buddha in the Rockefeller Collection at the Asia Society (see Pal, The Ideal Image, New York, 1978, p. 68, no. 15). Examples from Nepal are known from the 7th century (see von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, p. 304, nos. 74A and B). Also compare with a large standing Buddha dated to the 12th century in the Norton Simon Museum, see Pal, Art of the Himalayas and China, Pasadena, 2003, p. 81, no. 49.

    The extra thick method of casting, compressed well-defined lotus petals, and tang fragment at the back of the base are common traits of sculpture typically associated with the famed monasteries of Densatil and Drigung. A superb Cakrasamvara in the Rubin Museum of Art shares the same features (see Pal, Sensuous Immortals, Los Angeles, p. 177, no. 105) along with examples now in the Potala Palace Collection published in von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, vol. II, Hong Kong, 2001, pp. 1040-1041, nos. 260A-E.
    Furthermore, close comparison can be drawn with the present lot's squared face, high forehead, slightly prominent chin, mouth, and eyes with that of two Densatil figures of Amoghasiddhi and Akshobhya in the The Berti Aschmann Foundation Collection, see Uhlig, On a Path to Enlightenment, Museum Rietberg, Zurich, 1995, pp. 74-5.

    The relatively simplistic form and lack of ornamentation is not common at Densatil. However photographic evidence captured by Pietro Mele in 1948 prior to the monastery's destruction shows related examples set against cast back panels in the fourth tier of the Tashigomang stupa (see Czaja,
    Medieval Rule in Tibet: The Rlangs Clan and the Political and Religious History of the Ruling House of Phag mo gru pa. With a Study of the Monastic Art of Gdan sa mthil, Wien, 2013, pp. 661 and 763, pls. 116, 266 and 267. For further discussion on the tier of Buddhas at the tashi gomang stupa, see ibid., pp.424-6). Also see the forthcoming publication by Czaja: Golden Visions of Densatil: A Tibetan Buddhist Monastery, Asia Society, New York, 2014, fig. 21.

    While no extant examples of Buddhas of this type are known and the photographic archives are not conclusive, the cited comparative examples and quality of the Buddha provide a compelling argument for a Densatil attribution.

    Bonhams is grateful to Olaf Czaja for his assistance in the preparation of this entry.

    Provenance:
    Private Canadian Collection
    Acquired from Spink & Son Ltd, London, 1995
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