A gilt copper figure of Devi Nepal, circa 10th century

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Lot 4
A gilt copper figure of Devi
Nepal, circa 10th century

Sold for US$ 209,000 inc. premium
A gilt copper figure of Devi
Nepal, circa 10th century
The sublime goddess stands with the left knee slightly flexed, shifting her weight to the right with perfect poise on a flattened lotus platform, she wears a barely detectable diaphanous sash over her left breast falling to a curving pleated band down the left side, the lower garment is drawn tightly over her hips and thighs and is incised with horizontal bands of repeating floral motifs, she is adorned with matching necklace, jeweled crown and bands high on the upper arms, she holds a gem or seed in her right hand as she opens the palm in the gesture of charity, the left hand in kartaka mudra, her face with well-worn delicate features framed by a nimbus with a raised band of pearls and incised flames.
8 5/16 in. (21.1 cm) high

Footnotes

  • As all Lakshmi, Parvati and Tara are known to hold the lotus seed, the name Devi is an encompassing name that refers to The Goddess regardless of her many forms. Variously named during her long published history, the present lot has most commonly been identified as Devi on the basis of the ambiguity of her lone attribute, the lotus seed or gem and the missing attributed in her left.

    Pal suggests she is Tara and a "direct descendant of the 7th century Eilenberg Tara", now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (see Pal, Nepal; Where Gods Are Young, New York, 1975, no. 37, p. 54). Whereas a more conservative approach naming her Devi, has been applied more recently to the entire known group of closely related examples in the Cleveland Art Museum and British Museum published in von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, nos. 75G and 81F, and several others in the Jokhang Palace in Lhasa (see von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculpture in Tibet, Vol. I, Hong Kong, 2000, pp. 445, 479-481, nos. 138E-G, 150C-H). Commenting on the latter, von Schroeder discusses the issues regarding the iconography of standing female deities in this period. Lastly, compare the proportions and crown with a black stone stele of Devi, sold Sotheby's, New York, 21 March 21 2002, lot 45 - noteworthy is the long sinuous stem of a lotus flower she holds in her left hand.

    In the absence of consistent inscriptions, the dating of Licchavi and Transitional Period bronzes is difficult to establish on stylistic grounds alone. The Cleveland Devi cited above (1983.153) provides the most favorable comparison in the modeling of the form, treatment of the jewelry, and pleated sash, and is ascribed to circa 8th century. Meanwhile, the present lot has been more recently been given an early 11th century date. See Tingley in Celestial Realms, Sacramento, 2012, no. 6, pp. 46-7 for full discussion.

    The remarkable degree of wear from sustained ritual handing is a common trait of Nepalese sculpture that is directly handled during worship. With the features almost worn smooth, her divine face has taken on a further etherial quality amplifying her divine qualities.

    Published:
    Pratapaditya Pal, Nepal; Where Gods Are Young, Asia House Gallery exhibition catalogue, New York, 1975, no. 37, p. 54.
    Ulrich von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, no. 76F, p. 309.
    Nancy Tingley, Celestial Realms, Sacramento, 2012, no. 6, pp. 46-7

    Exhibited:
    Nepal; Where Gods Are Young, Asia House Gallery exhibition catalogue, New York, 1975
    Celestial Realms, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, 2012

    Provenance:
    William Wolff, New York before 1975
    Private Collection, New York 1976-2003
    Rossi+Rossi, London 2003
    Sotheby's, New York, 26 March 2003, lot 32
    Private U.S. Collection



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A gilt copper figure of Devi Nepal, circa 10th century
A gilt copper figure of Devi Nepal, circa 10th century
A gilt copper figure of Devi Nepal, circa 10th century
A gilt copper figure of Devi Nepal, circa 10th century
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