A SILVER INLAID COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESVARA SWAT VALLEY, CIRCA 7TH CENTURY

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Lot 801
A SILVER INLAID COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESVARA
SWAT VALLEY, CIRCA 7TH CENTURY

Sold for HK$ 4,375,625 (US$ 557,422) inc. premium
A SILVER INLAID COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESVARA
SWAT VALLEY, CIRCA 7TH CENTURY
With its original, separately-cast backplate, and a single line inscription on the back of the figure's cushion, probably reflecting the donor's name: "vajrasiṅa".
Himalayan Art Resources item no.68412
12.6 cm (5 in.), height of figure
16 cm (6 1/4 in.), height including mandorla

Footnotes

  • Published
    David Weldon and Jane Casey Singer, The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet: Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection, London, 1999, p.36-7, pl.2.
    Franco Ricca, Arte Buddhista Tibetana: Dei e Demoni dell'Himalaya, Turin, 2004, fig.IV.2.

    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, 18 June – 19 September 2004.
    Female Buddhas of Enlightenment in Tibetan Mysticism, Bruce Museum of Art, Greenwich, 2 July 2005 – 16 October 2005.
    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
    On loan to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1996-2005
    On loan to the Rubin Museum of Art, New York, 2005-2019

    The bronze shows Mahabodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, 'The Lord of Compassion', relaxed above a wicker stool with a jaunty expression enlivened by silver inlay. As if animate, he leans to one side, raising his right index finger towards his temple in a pensive gesture. A lotus flower rises from his left hand, while another protects the sole of his left foot from touching the profane world.
     
    The bronze's creator, a master likely working around the turn of the 6th and 7th centuries, labored over the bodhisattva's modelling, detailing contours of a lithe physique to evoke a young and capable savior. The artist wrapped the bodhisattva's athletic hips in a light lower garment that twists and pools with sumptuous pleats. His creation has survived unspoiled to this day, retaining its fine detail with a smooth rich brown patina of red and green inclusions.
     
    Behind Avalokiteshvara, on a separately cast mandorla, two attendants rejoice in the bodhisattva's presence. They flank his flaming halo, surmounted by a mahaparinirvana stupa, a symbol of the transcendental 'buddha-nature' benevolently permeating our world. Given the precise positioning of the attendants behind Avalokiteshvara's shoulders, the mandorla appears to be original to the piece. It is also stylistically consistent with a handful of other surviving examples from the period (e.g. Klimburg-Salter, The Silk Route and the Diamond Path, Los Angeles, 1982, pl.7; Rossi & Rossi Ltd, Gods and Demons of the Himalayas, London, 2012, no.7; Sotheby's, New York, 26 March 2003, lot 15). In all manner of subject, dating, quality, and condition, the present lot is one of the most exceptional early Buddhist bronzes from the Swat Valley.
     
    Nestled in the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountain range, at the crossroads of the Indian Subcontinent and Central Asia, Swat Valley was an important locus within the development and spread of Buddhist traditions between India, the Western Himalayas, and East Asia. Swat Valley's small corpus of bronzes shows an intriguing synthesis of aesthetic modes from the art of the Kushans, Guptas, and Sasanians: powerful empires who once wielded influence over the region. These bronzes also exhibit exciting precedents for the artistic schools of Kashmir, Gilgit, and Guge.
     
    It is among Swat Valley bronzes that we see some of the earliest depictions of important Mahayana and Vajrayana deities connecting Swat with the broader Buddhist world. For example, the pensive posture adopted by this bronze is also seen throughout Buddhist sculpture of China and Korea between the 5th and 7th centuries. This includes some of Korea's great national treasures, such as National Treasure 83, a late 6th-/early 7th-century gilt bronze Pensive Bodhisattva in the National Museum of Korea (Deoksu 3312), which is contemporaneous to the present lot.
     
    This bronze's rather unique reticulated base continues an iconographic tradition in early Mahayana art of depicting bodhisattvas seated on wicker stools (as opposed to lotus thrones, reserved for buddhas). Among the most important remaining Gandharan sculptures, the Mohammed Nari Stele shows a host of bodhisattvas seated on wicker stools of various designs, including two pensive bodhisattvas by the top center (Luczanits (ed.), The Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan, New York, 2011, p.163, no.68).
     
    There are only a few other Swat bronzes that go so far as to perforate the base to depict the basketry weave realistically, although neither as decoratively as the present lot. These include a c.6th-century Pensive Avalokiteshvara in the Alain Bordier Foundation and a 8th-/9th-century bronze of the same in the Palace Museum, Beijing (see von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures of the Alain Bordier Foundation, Hong Kong, 2010, p.11, pl.2A; & Zangchuan fojiao zaoxiang, Hong Kong, 2008, no.7; respectively). Most others merely echo the iconography with chased patterns, such as examples in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1974.273); Asia Society, New York (1993.2); and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (EA1971.14). Neither do they portray Avalokiteshvara's physique and garments with the same level of sophisticated modelling and meticulous detail. The present lot truly stands out as a rare and refined Swat bronze.


    銅錯銀觀音像
    斯瓦特,約七世紀
    背光為原配,與銅像分別鑄造;藤座側面刻單行銘文,或為供養人之名Vajrasina
    喜馬拉雅藝術資源網68412號
    高12.6釐米(5英吋),不含背光
    高16釐米(6 1/4英吋),含背光

    1,600,000-2,000,000港幣

    著錄
    David Weldon與Jane Casey Singer,《The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet:Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection》,倫敦,1999年,頁36-7,圖版2。
    Franco Ricca,《Arte Buddhista Tibetana:Dei e Demoni dell'Himalaya》,都靈,2004年,圖IV.2。

    展覽
    「The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet:Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection」,阿什莫林博物館,牛津,1999年10月6日至12月30日。
    「Arte Buddhista Tibetana:Dei e Demoni dell'Himalaya」,布里凱拉西奧宮,都靈,2004年6月18日至9月19日。
    「Female Buddhas of Enlightenment in Tibetan Mysticism」,布魯斯藝術博物館,格林威治,2005年7月2日至10月16日。
    「Casting the Divine:Sculptures of the Nyingjei Lam Collection」,魯賓藝術博物館,紐約,2012年3月2日至2013年2月11日。

    來源
    菩薩道收藏
    借展於阿什莫林博物館,牛津,1996年至2005年
    借展於魯賓藝術博物館,紐約,2005年至2019年

    大慈大悲之觀世音菩薩結半跏坐於藤椅,銀色光澤折射出雙目的炯炯神采。其半身微傾一側,舉手投足皆安然隨適,右手食指指向面頰,為思惟相。一枝蓮花自其左手升起,另一枝穩穩托住左足,使菩薩不沾俗世塵埃。

    本尊銅像應為一活躍於六與七世紀之交的傑出匠師精心製作,菩薩身體輪廓柔和健美,勾勒出一位年輕俊朗而具有大能之救主形象。菩薩下裙隨身,垂落下優美的褶皺,呈現出絲綢的柔順質感。數個世紀的光陰在造像的表面留下了平滑明亮的包漿與星星點點的紅綠鏽痕,講述著其歷經世事變遷依然神韻如初之傳奇。

    菩薩身後的背光為單獨鑄造,上有火焰形頭光,二位脅侍分立左右。頭光頂端為大涅磐塔,象徵佛陀涅槃成佛,超越塵世,以仁愛與慈悲普渡眾生。脅侍與菩薩之相對位置恰到好處,不差分毫,應為原作。背光整體形制與同時期其他作品風格一致,可參考Klimburg-Salter著《The Silk Route and the Diamond Path》,洛杉磯,1982年,圖版7;Rossi & Rossi Ltd, 《Gods and Demons of the Himalayas》,倫敦,2012年,編號7;蘇富比,紐約,2003年3月26日,拍品15。自整體造像風格、年代、工藝以及品相而言,本拍品當歸為斯瓦特地區流傳至今的早期作品中最無與倫比的珍寶之一。

    古老的斯瓦特坐落於興都庫什山麓,身處印度次大陸與中亞交匯處的樞紐地帶,在佛教於印度、西喜馬拉雅與東亞間的傳播中曾扮演過舉足輕重的角色。斯瓦特深受貴霜、笈多與薩珊等強盛一時的印度王朝影響,斯瓦特造像於是也融合了這些藝術傳統的風格。此後,斯瓦特造像進而又影響了克什米爾、吉爾吉特與古格藝術。

    也正是從斯瓦特河谷的造像中,我們得以窺見那些大乘佛教與密宗重要神袛最早期的塑像,它們見證著斯瓦特與廣闊佛教世界之間的連接。本造像之沉思狀常見於五至七世紀間中國與朝鮮半島佛像,此中包含諸多國寶級珍品,例如一件位於首爾的國立中央博物館所藏六世紀晚期或七世紀早期之銅鎏金思惟菩薩像(國寶83號,德壽3312),與本拍品為同時期鑄造。

    此處菩薩所坐之藤椅尤為獨具一格,為早期大乘佛教藝術中菩薩傳統造像特徵,與佛陀所坐之蓮花座相對。在保存至今的最重要的犍陀羅造像中有一件莫哈默德那利出土石碑,其上描繪了多位身坐各式藤椅的菩薩,其中中央上方便有二尊思惟相菩薩像(見Luczanits編,《The Buddhist Heirate of Pakistan》,紐約,2011年,頁163,編號68)。

    儘管斯瓦特銅像中將座椅鏤空以追求藤條寫實感的作品尚存幾例,卻無一可與本拍品富於裝飾性的美感相較,可參考Alain Bordier 基金會收藏中的一件六世紀思惟菩薩像以及一件北京故宮博物院藏八至九世紀同題材銅像,分別著錄於馮·施羅德著《Buddhist Sculptures of the Alain Bordier Foundation》,香港,2010年,頁11,圖版2A,以及《藏傳佛教造像》,香港,2008年,編號7。其他現存造像則僅僅刻有藤椅紋,如大都會博物館藏品1974.273號、紐約亞洲文化協會藏品1993.2號以及位於牛津的阿什莫林博物館所藏EA1971.44號,且無一能以如此細膩入微而生動自然的手法塑造極盡完美的菩薩形象。本造像毋庸置疑為斯瓦特銅像中極為精緻而珍貴的一件。
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A SILVER INLAID COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESVARA SWAT VALLEY, CIRCA 7TH CENTURY
A SILVER INLAID COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESVARA SWAT VALLEY, CIRCA 7TH CENTURY
A SILVER INLAID COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESVARA SWAT VALLEY, CIRCA 7TH CENTURY
A SILVER INLAID COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESVARA SWAT VALLEY, CIRCA 7TH CENTURY
A SILVER INLAID COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESVARA SWAT VALLEY, CIRCA 7TH CENTURY
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