A silver and copper inlaid copper alloy figure of Gayadhara Tibet, circa 15th century

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Lot 22
A silver and copper inlaid copper alloy figure of Gayadhara
Tibet, circa 15th century

Sold for US$ 209,000 inc. premium
A silver and copper inlaid copper alloy figure of Gayadhara
Tibet, circa 15th century
Seated in dhyanasana on a distinctive copper-inlaid lotus base with a thick beaded lower rim, his hands in dharmachakrapavartina mudra, his authoritative portrait inlaid with silver; inscribed on the reverse: pan chen ga ya dha ra la na mo; "homage to great Panditya Gayadhara."
8 3/8 in. (21.3 cm) high

Footnotes

  • 西藏 約十五世紀 銅錯銀迦雅達拿坐像

    Identified here by the beautifully incised Tibetan inscription, this is a rare and commanding portrait of the Indian master who brought the Lamdre teachings to Tibet.

    The sculptor has given the portrait a powerful presence. Silver-inlaid eyes and facial hair, and a distinctive hooked nose evident in profile, enliven his visage. His pandita hat bears incised tuft-like markings evoking the textured red material used for monastic caps of the Shakya order. Gayadhara's robe is drawn tight around his powerful frame and falls in delicate folds at the back.

    At the heart of the Shakya order is the Lamdre transmission lineage. First enunciated by Mahasiddah Virupa, Gayadhara (d. circa 1103) brought the teaching from India to Tibet - and transmitted the lineage to the industrious Tibetan translator Drogmi Shakya Yeshe (990-1074).

    Also known as "The Path with the Result", the Lamdre teaching, "is a vast and complex system of theory and practice, said to contain everything necessary for the attainment of complete enlightenment in one lifetime...The tantric practices should only be attempted under the guidance of a qualified master of this system." (Stearn, Taking the Result as the Path, Somerville, 2006, p. 7.)

    So prized are these teachings that at least two emperors of China were initiated into the practice, richly compensating their masters. The Northern Song Emperor Renzong was initiated in 1055. The Yuan Emperor Kublai Khan (r. 1260-94) was initiated by his imperial tutor Chogyel Pagpa, who was then rewarded with the thirteen districts of Tibet.

    Bolstered by Yuan imperial sanction, the Shakya order rose to great prominence in subsequent centuries, developing grand complexes such as Ngor monastery and Pelchor Chode in Gyantse. The latter likely served as the place of production for the present lot.

    Complemented by similar inscriptions and distinctive alternating copper inlaid lotus petals, there are two other sculptures from the same atelier: one of Shalupa Sangye Pelzang in the Oliver Hoare Collection (see Portraits of the Masters, London, 2003, p.266, no.74); the other of Lama Dampa Sonam Gyaltsen in the Rubin Museum of Art (HAR#203; Weldon & Casey, Faces of Tibet, Carlton Rochell, 2003, p. 70, no. 34). Discussing the latter, Rhie suggests it was made at Pelchor Chode because it bears so close a likeness to Shakya lama sculptures held there (Rhie & Thurman, A Shrine for Tibet, New York, 2009, p. 20, fig. 5).

    With only a handful known, sculptures of Gayadhara are extremely rare. One is preserved in Mindroling monastery (see von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, 2001, p. 979, no. 238C) and another is published in Chenbaizhong, Sattva & Rajas: The Culture and Art of Tibetan Buddhism, 2004 (HAR#32257). A contemporaneous portrait thangka sharing similar facial features is published in Rhie & Thurman, Wisdom and Compassion, New York, 1996, pp. 206 and 207, no. 64.

    Referenced:
    HAR - himalayanart.org/items/33036

    Provenance:
    William O. Thweatt, Nashville, acquired in Kathmandu between 1958-1962, during his time with the Ford Foundation and Aid Agency International, and while serving as an economic advisor to the King of Nepal
    E W Art, Pasadena, 2004
    Kapoor Galleries, New York, 2008
    Collection FKH, USA
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A silver and copper inlaid copper alloy figure of Gayadhara Tibet, circa 15th century
A silver and copper inlaid copper alloy figure of Gayadhara Tibet, circa 15th century
A silver and copper inlaid copper alloy figure of Gayadhara Tibet, circa 15th century
A silver and copper inlaid copper alloy figure of Gayadhara Tibet, circa 15th century
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