A BLACKSTONE STELE OF CROWNED BUDDHA BIHAR, PALA PERIOD, 10TH CENTURY
Lot 3224
A BLACKSTONE STELE OF CROWNED BUDDHA
BIHAR, PALA PERIOD, 10TH CENTURY
Sold for US$ 250,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
A BLACKSTONE STELE OF CROWNED BUDDHA BIHAR, PALA PERIOD, 10TH CENTURY A BLACKSTONE STELE OF CROWNED BUDDHA BIHAR, PALA PERIOD, 10TH CENTURY
A BLACKSTONE STELE OF CROWNED BUDDHA
BIHAR, PALA PERIOD, 10TH CENTURY
Himalayan Art Resources item no.58600
17 5/8 in. (45 cm) high

Footnotes

  • 比哈爾地區 帕拉時期 十世紀 黑石佛戴冠佛坐碑

    This stele's elegant simplicity sets it apart from the vast majority of Pala sculpture. The restraint shown from busy ornamentation within the backplate allows our attention to rest on the central subject, captured in blissful meditation. Our eye only departs to admire the crisp, broad lotus throne, or hug the rounded edges of the symmetrically pleasing stupas.

    These stupas might allude to the Buddhas of Antiquity, cited in the Theravada scripture, Buddhavamsa, which would conform to identifying the central figure as Crowned Shakyamuni Buddha rather than the Cosmic Buddha Amitayus (this has been suggested by Brown, The Dvaravati Wheels of the Law and the Indianization of South East Asia, New York, 1995, p.85). The attribution of Crowned Buddha rests on the presence of the diminutive effigy of a monkey holding a bowl near the stele's bottom left corner. This iconography refers to one of the Eight Miraculous Events of the Buddha's Life and their associated pilgrimage sites in Northeastern India, wherein at Vaishail a monkey offered Buddha a bowl of honey, now resting in his lap. Another example of this Theravada subject can found on a relief panel from Bodhgaya (Bautze-Picron, The Bejeweled Buddha from India to Burma, New Delhi, 2010, p.101). The Crowned Buddha appears to employ regal imagery to convey assertions of spiritual dominion and authority. The cult of the Crowned Buddha developed in Northeastern India by the 9th century and gained popularity throughout Southeast Asia.

    Beautifully carved in a style associated with the famed Pala monuments of Nalanda, Bodhgaya, and Kurkihar in Bihar, he wears a long, sheer, form-fitting monastic robe covering both shoulders, and a broad torque of scrolling foliate design. Lotus flower earrings flank his smooth cheeks. His tall crown rises in three triangular foliate leaves above a ribbon headband. A related Crowned Buddha in bronze was recently sold by Bonhams, Hong Kong, 2 October 2017, lot 16.

    The stele's unornamented backplate strongly indicates it was carved by the 10th century, before the evolution towards baroque exuberance seen in Pala art under the Sena rulers by the late 11th century. Compare with other closely related 10th-century examples from Bihar in the British Museum (acc.# 1950,1018.1 & 1872,0701.22). The present lot also compares favorably to a similar 10th-century example from Bihar in the Victoria and Albert Museum (acc.#IM.107-1920; Skelton, Arts of Bengal, London, 1979, p.26, no.7).

    Published
    Carlton Rochell Asian Art & Rossi Rossi Ltd, Masterpieces of Himalayan Art from a Private European Collection, New York, 2009.

    Provenance
    Private Collection, New York, acquired in the 1960s
    Sotheby's, New York, 16 & 17 March 1988, lot 38
    Private European Collection
    Carlton Rochell Asian Art, New York, 22 March 2010
Activities
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