A SILVER AND COPPER INLAID COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF TSANGNYON HERUKA TIBET, 16TH CENTURY
Lot 3006
A SILVER AND COPPER INLAID COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF TSANGNYON HERUKA
TIBET, 16TH CENTURY
Sold for US$ 72,500 inc. premium

Lot Details
A SILVER AND COPPER INLAID COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF TSANGNYON HERUKA TIBET, 16TH CENTURY
A SILVER AND COPPER INLAID COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF TSANGNYON HERUKA
TIBET, 16TH CENTURY
Himalayan Art Resources item no.61545
8 1/4 in. (21 cm) high

Footnotes

  • 西藏 十六世紀 錯銀錯紅銅藏紐赫魯嘎銅像

    Within the nyonpa ("mad yogin") tradition of the Drukpa Kagyu school, there are three main representatives: Tsangnyon Heruka (1452-1507, "madman of Tsang"), Drukpa Kunley (1455–1529, "madman of the dragon lineage"), and U-nyon Kunga Zangpo (1458-1532, "madman of U"). Among these tantric yogis, Tsangnyon Heruka was the most influential. Many sculptures by him, or dedicated to him, survive to the present day. This sculpture is among the most charismatic of his portrait bronzes, reveling in his eccentric lore by depicting him with a lazy eye of copper and silver inlay.

    Tsangnyon Heruka's iconography is fairly consistent and therefore easy to identify. He is often represented with plaited long hair bound with a diadem, wide eyes, naked upper torso, and rotund belly, holding a vajra in his right hand and a skull cup in his left.

    Originally an ordained follower of the Kagyu tradition, Tsangnyon Heruka later abandoned monasticism to pursue the tantric life. Inspired by early Indian texts and the mahasiddhas, he inhabited burial grounds, and covered himself with human blood and ash. Despite his unusual behavior, he attracted numerous disciples as he travelled through Tibet and Nepal. One of Tibet's most celebrated authors, Tsangnyon Heruka is among the first to have his works printed with woodblocks, in turn funding and developing the technology which would have a profound effect on Tibetan culture. His most famous writings include the biography of the poet-saint Milarepa (1040-1123), and the popular Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa. He also produced many instructional texts, particularly for the Rechung Kagyu and Drukpa Kagyu transmissions.

    Compare with another 16th-century bronze of Tsangnyon Heruka in the Tsang style, see Dinwiddie (ed.), Portraits of the Masters, London, 2003, pp.154-5, no.25. The treatment of his round eyes, thick brows, plaited locks, and the square inlay on the chest also compares favorably with a bronze figure of Virupa in the Gordon collection, published in von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, pp.482-3, no.135E.

    Published
    Cf. Ricca, F., Arte Buddhista Tibetana: Dei Demoni dell'Himalaya, Milan, 2004, pl. 34.

    Provenance
    Private Italian Collection, since late 1960s/early 1970s
    Sotheby's, New York, 5 December 1992, lot 239
    Sotheby's, New York, 24 March 2011, lot 62
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