The Claude de Marteau Collection, Part II / STATUETTE DE CHAKRASAMVARA EN ALLIAGE DE CUIVRE DORÉ TIBET, XVIIE SIÈCLE
€200,000 - €300,000
Global Head, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art
Head of Sale, NY & HK - Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF CHAKRASAMVARA
TIBET, 17TH CENTURY
西藏 十七世紀 銅鎏金勝樂金剛像
With Claude de Marteau, Brussels, by 1970s
This exceptional gilt bronze depicts the meditational deity (yidam) Chakrasamvara (lit. 'Wheel of Bliss') comprised of male and female enlightened beings depicted in a sexual embrace, symbolic of the transcendent bliss that skilled Tantric practitioners experience on completion of the Chakrasamvara Tantra. Visualized as gendered embodiments of perfected wisdom (female) and compassion (male) merging into a perfected, interpenetrative union, youthful Vajravarahi leaps onto Samvara, wrapping her thighs around his waist in a 'suspended' (avalambitaka) maneuver described in the ancient writings of the Kama Sutra. He pulls her in close, returning her impassioned gaze. With the same primary arms he uses to cradle her, Samvara crosses the vajra and ghanta implements in his hands in the vajrahumkara gesture, signifying the frontally obscured successful integration of Buddhism's two highest qualities.
The sophisticated quality of this sculptural ensemble betrays a Newari master artist in the service of Tibetan patrons. Painstaking care has been given to delineate each attribute held in Samvara's twelve hands, including a disembodied head with long strands of hair and a loosely gathered lasso. A criss-cross bone apron replete with inset turquoise covers Vajravarahi's rear, leading the eye below to the thickly-gilded garlands of expressive skulls and severed heads. A towering openwork mandorla emblazons the composition while a beaded lotus base with long, supple petals support the Hindu gods, Bhairava and Kalaratri, subdued underfoot by Chakrasamvara's awesome supremacy.
The Tibetan inscription located at the back of the base, which translates to 'Tashilima', suggests this sculpture was commissioned for Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Shigatse, Central Tibet (see Luo, "Tashi Lhunpo Statuary: Karma and Mt Meru", in Bonhams, Hong Kong, 26 November 2019). Tashi Lhunpo is the traditional monastic seat of the Panchen Lama, the Gelug order's second-in-command, and maintained a particularly close relationship with the Qing court during the reign of the Kangxi emperor (1662-1722). When the Fourth Panchen Lama, Lobsang Chökyi Gyaltsen (1567-1662), became the abbot of Tashi Lhunpo in 1607, he enlisted artisans to lay the foundations of a settlement nearby the monastery. Known as Tashikitsel, this village consisting of workshops dedicated to varying disciplines provided Tashi Lhunpo with a steady stream of building materials, textiles, paintings, and gilt bronzes for the greater part of the 17th and 18th centuries. Compare the similar treatment of the mandorla and garland interwoven with skulls and heads to closely related examples such as a Begtse Chen sold at Christie's, London, 12 April 1988, lot 139; a Hayagriva in the Musée Guimet (von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, p. 455, no. 125F); and a Vajrabhairava sold at Bonhams, Hong Kong, 29 November 2016, lot 13. Lastly, compare the slender proportions of a parcel-gilt Chakrasamvara, published in Uhlig, On the Path to Enlightenment, Zurich, 1995, p. 168, no. 112.