A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF BHURKUMKUTA  CENTRAL TIBET, 15TH CENTURY

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Lot 947
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF BHURKUMKUTA 
CENTRAL TIBET, 15TH CENTURY

Sold for US$ 350,075 inc. premium
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF BHURKUMKUTA 
CENTRAL TIBET, 15TH CENTURY
Himalayan Art Resources item no.68460
5 1/2 in. (13.9 cm) high

Footnotes

  • 藏中 十五世紀 銅鎏金穢跡金剛像

    This gilt bronze depicts Bhurkumkuta, one of the rarest subjects in Tibetan sculpture. Bhurkumkuta is a healing deity worshipped for eradicating a practitioner's disease. Executed with "supreme mastery", this sculpture is identified by Weldon as perhaps the most accomplished work of Tibetan art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection (Weldon & Singer, The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet, London, 1999, p.116). This gilt bronze is also the finest known sculptural example of Bhurkumkuta.

    Bhurkumkuta's fierce imagery serves to convey his assured capacity to eviscerate personal afflictions. Standing firmly in a pratyalidha pose with hands aloft menacingly, his ferocity is vividly captured with a roaring mouth, flamelike eyebrows, moustache and blazing red hair. He holds a visvajra (a double thunderbolt scepter) and vajra, which is symbolic of the immutable quality of the spiritual truth revealed by Shakyamuni. In his presence, there can be no doubt of Bhurkumkuta's capacity to eradicate sickness and disease.

    Only two other bronze sculptures of Bhurkumkuta are broadly known: another 15th-century example formerly in the Goldman Collection, (see von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, p.441, no.118E) and a Qing period example in the Katimari Collection (HAR 59542).

    Discussing the present bronze's quality and 15th-century dating, Weldon draws attention to close stylistic parallels in painted murals of Gyantse Kumbum in Shigatse, Central Tibet. With its initial structures completed in the first half of the 15th century, the Gyantse Kumbum is one of the grandest monuments of Tibet. Its seventy-five chapels are filled with painted depictions of wrathful deities pertaining to tantric practice. The treatment of the present sculpture's corpulent abdomen closely resembles that painted for one of Gyantse Kumbum's murals of Krodha Trailokyadharsana (Ricca & Lo Bue, The Great Stupa of Gyantse, London, 1993, p.170, no.55). Similarly, the bronze's looping scarves and mesmerizing tiger skin lower garment match those in a mural of Vajrapani (ibid., p.153, no.38).

    Also, informing this masterpiece's 15th-century attribution is its incorporation of key elements of early Ming imperial style. The high technical mastery exhibited in bronzes of the Yongle and Xuande imperial workshops are known to have been received with great enthusiasm in Tibet (cf. Weldon, 'The Perfect Image: The Speelman Collection of Yongle and Xuande Buddhist Icons', in Arts of Asia, May-June 1996, pp.64-73). The sculptor's choice of representing this Bhurkumkuta's fine jewelry without inlaid semiprecious stones follows a convention set by the Yongle imperial style. Additionally, the depiction of Bhurkumkuta's scarf swirling in small loops between his torso and arms perfectly balances the sculptural composition, as with a Yongle Mahakala published in von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, p.519, no.145E). Two 15th-century thangkas of Raktayamari and Vajrasattva demonstrate other instances in which the convention of these small loops set by Ming imperial workshops were adopted into fine Tibetan artworks of the 15th century (see Rhie & Thurman, Wisdom and Compassion, New York, 2000, pp.234 & 332, nos.77 & 132, respectively).  

    Published
    David Weldon and Jane Casey Singer, The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet: Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection, London, 1999, pp.116, pl.25.
    Franco Ricca, Arte Buddhista Tibetana: Dei e Demoni dell' Himalaya, Palazzo Bricherasio, Turin, 2004, fig.IV.55.

    Exhibited
    The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet: Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 6 October - 30 December 1999.
    Arte Buddhista Tibetana: Dei e Demoni dell' Himalaya, Palazzo Bricherasio, Turin, June - September 2004 .
    Casting the Divine: Sculptures of the Nyingjei Lam Collection, Rubin Museum of Art, New York, 2 March 2012 - 11 February 2013. 

    Provenance
    The Nyingjei Lam Collection, Hong Kong
    On loan to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1996–2005
    On loan to the Rubin Museum of Art, New York 2005-2018
Contacts
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF BHURKUMKUTA  CENTRAL TIBET, 15TH CENTURY
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF BHURKUMKUTA  CENTRAL TIBET, 15TH CENTURY
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF BHURKUMKUTA  CENTRAL TIBET, 15TH CENTURY
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF BHURKUMKUTA  CENTRAL TIBET, 15TH CENTURY
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF BHURKUMKUTA  CENTRAL TIBET, 15TH CENTURY
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