A COPPER COMPOSITE FIGURE OF VAJRAPANI AND KUBERA ATTRIBUTED BY INSCRIPTION TO THE TENTH KARMAPA, CHOYING DORJE (1604-1674)

Lot 110
A COPPER COMPOSITE FIGURE OF VAJRAPANI AND KUBERA
ATTRIBUTED BY INSCRIPTION TO THE TENTH KARMAPA, CHOYING DORJE (1604-1674)

Sold for HK$ 15,060,000 (US$ 1,927,772) inc. premium

Lot Details
Premium Lot - Online Bidding Will Not Be Available
A COPPER COMPOSITE FIGURE OF VAJRAPANI AND KUBERA ATTRIBUTED BY INSCRIPTION TO THE TENTH KARMAPA, CHOYING DORJE (1604-1674)
 A COPPER COMPOSITE FIGURE OF VAJRAPANI AND KUBERA ATTRIBUTED BY INSCRIPTION TO THE TENTH KARMAPA, CHOYING DORJE (1604-1674)
 A COPPER COMPOSITE FIGURE OF VAJRAPANI AND KUBERA ATTRIBUTED BY INSCRIPTION TO THE TENTH KARMAPA, CHOYING DORJE (1604-1674)
 A COPPER COMPOSITE FIGURE OF VAJRAPANI AND KUBERA ATTRIBUTED BY INSCRIPTION TO THE TENTH KARMAPA, CHOYING DORJE (1604-1674)
 A COPPER COMPOSITE FIGURE OF VAJRAPANI AND KUBERA ATTRIBUTED BY INSCRIPTION TO THE TENTH KARMAPA, CHOYING DORJE (1604-1674)

A COPPER COMPOSITE FIGURE OF VAJRAPANI AND KUBERA
ATTRIBUTED BY INSCRIPTION TO THE TENTH KARMAPA, CHOYING DORJE (1604-1674)

Solid cast, with traces of gilding, cold gold, blue pigment, and devotional accretions in recessed areas, with an ancient repair to the legs; the base with a single line dedicatory inscription, rje btsun chos dbyings rdorje'I phyag bz, translated, "A work made by the venerable Choying Dorje"; accompanied by a 13th-century painted wood shrine.
Figure: 14.3 cm (5 5/8 in.) high;
Travelling Shrine: 22 x 20.3 x 15 cm (8 5/8 x 8 x 5 7/8 in.)

Footnotes

  • Published
    Adrian Maynard, "Advertisement", in Oriental Art, Vol. XXXIII, no.2, 1987, p.122.

    Ulrich von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Volume Two: Tibet & China, Hong Kong, 2001, pp.740–6, 754–5, figs. XII–13, pl. 175; also illustrated on the spine, cover, frontispiece, and final illustration.

    Irmgard Mengele, "The Life and Art of the Tenth Karma-pa Chos-dbyings-rdo-rje (1604-1674): A Biography of a Great Tibetan Lama and Artist of the Turbulent Seventeenth Century" (Dissertation), Universität Hamburg, 2005.

    Hu Guoqiang, "Study of a Tibetan inscribed Guanyin Bronze Sculpture", in Sino-Tibetan Art Research. Proceedings from the Third International Symposium on Tibetan Archaeology and Art, Xie, Luo & Jing (eds), Shanghai, 2009, pp.389-395.

    Irmgard Mengele, Riding a Huge Wave of Karma: The Turbulent Life of the Tenth Karma-pa, Kathmandu, 2012, p.369, pl. 2.

    Karl Debreczeny (ed.), The Black Hat Eccentric: Artistic Vision of the Tenth Karmapa, New York, 2012, p.216, fig.8.2.

    Bsod nams dbang ldan [Sonam Wanden], Potala Palace, Pho brang Po taa la, Pho brang Po taa la la'i do dam khru'u nas, nang khul lo phyed dus deb, spyi'i deb grangs I, II-23, Bod btsan po'i dus kyi li ma'i sku brnyan skor rob tsam gleng ba, 2012.

    Ian Alsop, "The Sculpture of Chöying Dorjé, Tenth Karmapa", AsianArt.com, January, 2013, http://asianart.com/articles/10karmapa/

    Ulrich von Schroeder, "The Sculpture of Chöying Dorjé, Tenth Karmapa: A Review", AsianArt.com, January, 2013, http://asianart.com/articles/10karmapa-uvs-review/index.html

    Luo Wenhua, "A Survey of a Willow-branch Guanyin Attributed to the Tenth Karmapa in the Palace Museum and Related Questions", in The Tenth Karmapa & Tibet's Turbulent Seventeenth Century, Debreczeny & Tuttle (eds), Chicago, 2016, pp.168 & 178-9, fig.7.22.

    Provenance
    Adrian Maynard by 1986
    Sotheby's, New York, 30 November 1994, lot 235
    The wooden shrine acquired in 1996


    金剛手俱毗羅復合銅像
    由題款指認為十世噶瑪巴卻英多傑(1604-1674)之作

    實心鑄造,表面殘留鎏金、泥金及藍色彩繪,凹陷處有積成物,腿部經舊 時修復;寶座上刻有題款一行,rje btsun chos dbyings rdorje'I phyag bz,譯為:"由德高望重的卻英多傑所作";配有十三世紀木質彩繪佛龕。
    銅像:高14.3釐米(5 5/8英寸);
    佛龕:22 x 20.3 x 15釐米(8 5/8 x 8 x 5 7/8英寸)


    13,000,000-18,000,000 港元

    著錄
    Adrian Maynard,"Advertisement",刊載於Oriental Art,卷XXXIII,2號,1987年,122頁。

    烏爾裡希•馮•施羅德,西藏佛教造像,卷二:西藏與中國,香港,2001 年,740–6,754–5頁,圖XII–13,圖版175; 並用於書脊、封面、卷首 及卷尾插圖。

    Irmgard Mengele,"The Life and Art of the Tenth Karma-pa Chos-dbyings-rdo-rje (1604-1674): A Biography of a Great Tibetan Lama and Artist of the Turbulent Seventeenth Century"(博士論文),漢堡大學,2005年

    胡國強,"藏文題記觀世音銅像考",刊載於 漢藏佛教美術研究。第三屆西藏考古與藝術國際學術討論會,謝繼勝,羅文化與景安寧(編),上海,2009年,389-395頁。

    Irmgard Mengele,Riding a Huge Wave of Karma: The Turbulent Life of the Tenth Karma-pa,加德滿都,2012年,369頁,圖版2

    Karl Debreczeny,The Black Hat Eccentric: Artistic Vision of the Tenth Karmapa, Rubin Museum of Art,紐約,2012年,216頁,圖 8.2。

    Bsod nams dbang ldan [Sonam Wanden], Potala Palace, Pho brang Po taa la, Pho brang Po taa la la'i do dam khru'u nas, nang khul lo phyed dus deb, spyi'i deb grangs I, II-23, Bod btsan po'i dus kyi li ma'i sku brnyan skor rob tsam gleng ba, 2012年。

    Ian Alsop,"The Sculpture of Chöying Dorje, Tenth Karmapa",AsianArt.com,1月,2013年,http://asianart.com/articles/10karmapa/

    烏爾裡希·馮·施羅德,"The Sculpture of Chöying Dorje, Tenth Karmapa: A Review",AsianArt.com,1月,2013年,http://asianart.com/articles/10karmapa-uvs-review/index.html

    羅文華,"A Survey of a Willow-branch Guanyin Attributed to the Tenth Karmapa in the Palace Museum and Related Questions",刊載於The Tenth Karmapa & Tibet's Turbulent Seventeenth Century,Debreczeny與Tuttle(編),芝加哥,2016年,168,178-9頁,圖7.22。

    來源
    Adrian Maynard珍藏,至1986年
    蘇富比,紐約,1994年11月30日,235號拍品
    木質佛龕購於1996年


    Having served for some 15 years as the gold foil emblem on the cover and spine of Ulrich von Schroeder's Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Volume II: Tibet & China, this enigmatic figure is one of Tibetan art's most famous sculptures. It has fascinated scholars, receiving at least three different attributions since 1987. First, it was described as a 7th-/8th-century Nepalese sculpture, due to its high copper content and glossy, worn patina. Then, it was heralded as one of the earliest surviving Tibetan sculptures from the long-lost Yarlung kingdom (c. 7th-9th centuries). And more recently, as further research has enriched our understanding of the incredible life and art of the Tenth Karmapa Choying Dorje (1604-1674), the figure has been identified as one of his key sculptures, the most important work bearing an inscription of his name in private hands.

    It bears the hallmarks of Choying Dorje's beloved whimsical style and visionary iconography, smiling with his telltale puckered lips, bringing form to an otherwise expansive chin below a well-conceived but unruly hairstyle. The dwarfish and pot-bellied male copper figure is trampling on a snake (naga) placed on a single lotus stand with two Garuda-birds at the sides and supported by an oval, rock-shaped pedestal. Garuda, whose name is interpreted as "devourer", is the sworn enemy of the snakes. The figure holds a diamond scepter (vajra) in the right hand and a female mongoose (nakuli) in the left. This image is a composite figure of Vajrapani distinguished by the diamond scepter, and of Kubera, characterized by the mongoose. This deity thus integrates aspects of Vajrapani and Kubera. The image is sparsely dressed in a piece of cloth tied around the hips. He is wearing the "five seals" (pancamudra) ornaments, here composed of snakes (naga), namely a pair of earrings, a necklace, a pair of bracelets, anklets, and the investiture with the sacred thread in the form of an anthropomorphic Nagaraja (nagopavita) in addition to the tiny Nagarajas ("naga kings") behind the ears. Another pair of Nagarajas coils around the narrow waist of the pedestal. The composition of the pedestal relates to the episode where the multi-headed Naga Vasuki was tied around Mt. Mandara and used as the churning rope to churn the ocean of milk. This compositional feature is copied after brass statues of the Patola-Sahi of the Gilgit valley in Kashmir cast about 650–750 AD of which some were in the possession of the Tibetan temples since the Imperial Period in the 7th–8th centuries.

    On the front side of the pedestal, along the lower edge, is a single-line dedicatory Tibetan inscription in dBu can script: || rje btsun chos dbyings rdo rje'i phyag bzo ||. "A work made by the venerable Chos dbyings rdo rje". Aligning it with the only seven known examples bearing such dedicatory inscriptions. Chief among them are two copper figures in the Jokhang, Lhasa, very similar to the present sculpture, such that they were likely produced at the same time. A high copper content, similar to Nepalese metal sculptures, is congruent across all three, although they are different in size and physiognomy. Interestingly, with exception of the image offered for sale, two evade any definitive identification in subject matter, combining iconographical elements unseen elsewhere, although it is hoped their secrets may be unlocked through further research of the Tenth Karmapa's biographies.

    According to von Schroeder, this figure, and the two in the Jokhang, actually represent much earlier pieces which Choying Dorje drew artistic inspiration from – as he was known to do with ancient sculptures. Von Schroeder recognizes stylistic comparisons with Yarlung dynasty sculptures and woodcarvings, such as the yaksha-like proportions, ovoid face, and unruly hair of an atlant carved in a pillar at the Jokhang probably during the temple's construction in the 7th century. He also argues that the bronze's extensive wear indicates a much earlier date than Choying Dorje's lifetime, to which an inscription was added in the 17th century or later, possibly by someone who misinterpreted its resemblance to works by the Tenth Karmapa. He sees in its non-canonical iconography a nascent reconciliation between foreign Indian Buddhist and Brahmanical ideas and native Tibetan traditions.

    Meanwhile, Ian Alsop and other scholars argue that since this bronze resembles the rest of Choying Dorje's oeuvre, it must belong to it. He views the unconventional iconography as entirely aligned with the Karmapa's visionary style. He surmises that the inscription is factually correct and was probably overseen by someone with an intimate knowledge of Choying Dorje's works, such as Pelden Gyats o (1610-1684). Also known as Kuntu Zangpo, Gyatso is mentioned as the recipient of the thangka, Marpa Receives the Poet-Saint Milarepa, preceding this lot. Alsop acknowledges that it seems hard to believe that the level of wear could have occurred in just 400 years, but he doesn't discount the possibility. Of course, the ongoing debate of whether an anonymous artist cast this image during the Yarlung dynasty, or Choying Dorje during the 17th century, merely affirms its significance as one of the most fascinating masterpieces of Tibetan metal sculpture. Either it stems from the birth of Tibetan art and had a seminal influence upon Choying Dorje, or it represents one of the most important sculptures by him.

    Rubbed and worn to a smooth buttery patina, if we accept the sculpture as a creation by Choying Dorje, its extensive wear invites us to deduce that it must have had great personal significance for the Tenth Karmapa. Such wear is typically seen on devotional sculpture that is washed and rubbed during ritual and prayer, a practice that is particularly encouraged in Nepal, for instance. The extent seen here certainly rivals what one would typically associate with much older Nepalese sculpture. If it were made by Choying Dorje, and kept in his possession, he must have propitiated it frequently, perhaps more than daily. Its subject matter may begin to take on greater significance, combining the deities responsible for protecting devotees from harmful forces and providing sustenance. These were surely two perpetual concerns for Choying Dorje, and we may even be tempted to imagine the scars across the sculpture's ankles as being damaged and repaired along the Tenth Karmapa's perilous road to safety.

    In fact, beyond the unique and charismatic appeal of the Tenth Karmapa's style, it is the potential to read his life story into his art that gives it such profound appeal among collectors, curators, and scholars. Whereas in Tibetan art, where artistic production is integrally anonymous and formulaic, Choying Dorje's biographies and oeuvre provide a rare, perhaps even singular, instance where it is possible to read the artist's struggles and worldview into his painting and sculpture.

    Furthermore, the scholarly debates around the attribution of this sculpture have somewhat distracted from just how incredible and rare it is, distinct from hundreds of thousands of other Tibetan sculptures produced since the eighth century. it is important to first understand that every piece of Tibetan Buddhist art was made for worship. As such, in order for a sculpture to be ritually viable, it had to follow a set of prescriptions for what the Buddha, deity, or monk looked like: canonized descriptions of the posture and implements that identified him or her. Even the proportions had to follow strict iconometric rules in order for a painting or sculpture to be spiritually potent. Deviations were met with fierce objection. That is, with the notable exception of instances when they were inspired by the meditations or visions of a top-ranking lama, such as a reincarnate Karmapa.

    Accompanying the sculpture is a rare 13th-century shrine. Lightweight and assembled of wood with painted decoration, it likely served as a travelling shrine during pilgrimages. The small temple with attached doors is painted on the inside with an altar dedicated to the triratna, a symbol for the three-fold nature of Buddhism: the Buddha, the teachings, and the monastic community. Two bodhisattvas, likely Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara, stand by either side of the altar embracing it with one arm. Flanking Garuda above are Shakyamuni and Samvara with his consort, Vajravarahi. The two side-panels each depict separate lineages illustrating the transmission of a particular tantric tradition. The left side possibly depicts a version of the Chakrasamvara lineage beginning with Vajradhara and the mahasiddha Saraha. The right side depicts a version of the Lamdre tradition beginning with Vajradhara, Nairatmya, Virupa, and Kanhapa. The pointed upper corners of each figure's throne back is a stylistic convention generally seen before the 14th century. Whilst purchased separately, for twenty years this shrine has sheltered this enigmatic sculpture in Ulrich von Schroeder's home, as they appear together in the first and last illustrations of Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Volume II.

    此文章之中文版本收錄於限量版圖錄《Masterpieces of Himalayan Art from the Collection of Ulrich von Schroeder》
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