A gilt copper figure of Vajrapani Nepal, circa 10th century
Lot 3
A gilt copper figure of Vajrapani
Nepal, circa 10th century
Sold for US$ 118,750 inc. premium

Lot Details
A gilt copper figure of Vajrapani Nepal, circa 10th century A gilt copper figure of Vajrapani Nepal, circa 10th century A gilt copper figure of Vajrapani Nepal, circa 10th century
A gilt copper figure of Vajrapani
Nepal, circa 10th century
In the aspect of Nilambaradhara, wearing eight races of nagas about his youthful body and a tiger skin over a dhoti draped across his thighs, he dances upon a pair of corpses on a lotus platform, with his right hand raised holding the vajra and the left raised in the threatening gesture of tarjani mudra, with a diadem of matted hair, round staring eyes and open mouth baring fangs.
8 1/2 in. (21.5 cm) high

Footnotes

  • The fluid movement of the figure in a ferocious, yet joyous pose is a tour de force of Himalayan sculpture. Its importance is further accentuated by the smooth dark brown patina established from extensive ritual handling. Close comparisons can been seen in other powerful deities, such as the 9th century Vajrapurusha in the Norton Simon Museum (see Pal, Art of the Himalayas and China, Pasadena, 2003, p. 74, no. 46) and the 10th century Padmataka in the Jokhang Palace, Lhasa (von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculpture in Tibet, Hong Kong, 1981, p. 473, no. 147B, 149A). A more conventional posture of a 10th century 'Angry God' in a private collection with the missing attribute shares similar modeling of the body and adornments, see Pal, Himalayas: An Aesthetic Adventure, Chicago, 2003, p. 33, no. 9.

    As noted by Watt, Vajrapani Nilambharadhara is strongly associated with the Sakya tradition as a protector deity, and was also revered by the Kadampa Buddhists (see Linrothe & Watt, Demonic Divine, New York, 2004, p. 226-7). Tingley has argued in reference to the present lot that because Nilambaradhara Vajarapani was important in Tibetan Buddhism during the 10th and 11th centuries, but not in Nepal, this piece may have been produced by a Newari artist for a Tibetan patron (see Tingely Celestial Realms, Sacramento, 2012, p. 42). She further notes that it may have been produced during a time when the iconography of Nilambaradhara was still influx, predating later examples where he stands in alidhasana, rather than dances (ibid., p. 42).

    Pal comments, "Normally, in the early art of Nepal he is seen as a placid bodhisattva along with Avalokitesvara and Maitreya. This spirited and expressive bronze may well be the earliest known representation of his angry manifestation in Himalayan and Indian Buddhist art" (Pal, Art of the Himalayas, New York, 1991, p. 45).

    Published:
    Pal, Nepal; Where Gods Are Young, Asia House Gallery exhibition catalogue, New York, 1975, no. 25
    von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, no. 109B
    Slusser, Nepal Mandala, vol. 2, 1982, pl. 465
    Reynolds and Heller, The Newark Museum Tibetan Collection: Sculpture and Painting, Newark, 1986, fig. 2, p. 167
    Pal, Art of the Himalayas: Treasures from Nepal and Tibet, New York, 1991, no. 9
    Pal, Ars de L'Himalaya, Idoles du Nepal et du Tibet, Paris, 1996, p. 53, no. 9
    Carlton Rochell, Ltd, Pantheon of the Gods, New York, 2007, no. 31
    Nancy Tingley, Celestial Realms, Sacramento, 2012, no. 4, pp.42-3

    Exhibited:
    Nepal; Where Gods Are Young, Asia House Gallery, New York, 1975.
    Art of the Himalayas: Treasures from Nepal and Tibet, January 1992 - October 1993, cat. no. 81, Newark Museum; Portland Art Museum; Phoenix Art Museum; Pittsburgh, The Helen and Clay Frick Foundation; Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Pasadena, Pacific Asia Museum and Tampa Museum of Art.
    Celestial Realms, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, 2012

    Provenance:
    Zimmerman Family Collection, 1960s-2007
    Carlton Rochell Ltd, New York, 2007
    Private U.S. Collection

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