A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF VIRUPA TIBET, 14TH/15TH CENTURY

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Lot 802
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF VIRUPA
TIBET, 14TH/15TH CENTURY

Sold for HK$ 5,455,625 (US$ 695,006) inc. premium
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF VIRUPA
TIBET, 14TH/15TH CENTURY
Himalayan Art Resources item no.68491
14 cm (5 1/2 in.) high

Footnotes

  • Published
    David Weldon and Jane Casey Singer, The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet: Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection, London, 1999, pp.176-7, pl.42.
    Franco Ricca, Arte Buddhista Tibetana: Dei e Demoni dell'Himalaya, Turin, 2004, p.195, fig.IV.44.

    Exhibited
    Arte Buddhista Tibetana: Dei e Demoni dell'Himalaya, Palazzo Bricherasio, Turin, 18 June – 19 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
    On loan to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1996-2005
    On loan to the Rubin Museum of Art, New York, 2005-2019

    Of its scale, this is one of the best cast gilt bronzes of Virupa, a beloved c.9th-century tantric master and legendary rascal. Depicting Virupa with his right arm raised up to the sky, the sculpture recalls the most amusing episode from the mahasiddha's life: when he stopped the movement of the sun to avoid settling a bar tab.
     
    Virupa is a 'root guru' for the Sakya order of Tibetan Buddhism and the first mortal master of its lamdre teachings. The lamdre teachings are a potent tantric practice that can lead to enlightenment within a single lifetime. Once an abbot of Nalanda monastery, and after giving up on decades of unsuccessful attempts at the Chakrasamvara tantra, Virupa received the lamdre teachings directly from the deity Vajra Nairatmya. His subsequent antinomian rituals cost him his affiliation, as other members of the monastic hierarchy frowned upon his use of meat and alcohol. Banished from Nalanda, he wandered as an eccentric enlightened yogin, performing a number of miracles.
     
    One of the details distinguishing this bronze's quality is the garland of modelled flowers draped over Virupa's body. The garland is ubiquitous among portraits of Virupa, symbolic of his ecstatic life in the wilderness. However, rather than being cast as part of the surface of his body, here it is modelled three-dimensionally resting around his shoulders (contrast with a Virupa sold at Bonhams, Hong Kong, 29 November 2016, lot 102). His finely articulated coiffure is yet another example of the superb craftmanship exhibited by this bronze, as are Virupa's carefully delineated teeth.
     
    The bronze was most likely made by a Newari master craftsman working for a Tibetan patron. The beautifully proportioned and sensuously modeled body resembles contemporaneous works from the Newari tradition of Nepal, as does the separately cast flower garland. Elements indicating a Newar adapting his work for a Tibetan patron—aside from the obvious Sakya subject—include the thick flat rim of the base below a beaded border, common among Tibetan sculptures of the 15th century. As Weldon and Casey Singer have discussed, Newari artists, known for their skilled metal casting, were frequently hired by wealthy Tibetan patrons during the 14th-15th centuries—among them notably the Sakya order (The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet, London, 1999, p.176). Two closely related examples of Virupa, also likely Newari products for Tibetan patrons, are a gilt bronze sold at Bonhams, New York, 16 March 2015, lot 16, and a silver figure with gilt bronze base in the collection of the Museum Rietberg (2007.72), currently attributed to the Khasa Malla Kingdom spanning western Nepal and western Tibet.
     
    The present bronze has also clearly been made within a period of refinement in Tibetan art inspired by cultural exchange with the Yuan and Early Ming courts of China. For example, the incised foliate scrolls decorating the meditation band around Virupa's waist and right shin are clearly inspired by Yuan textiles; they closely resemble the decorative patterns behind donor figures on a famed kesi Vajrabhairava mandala in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1992.54). Similar designs are also reproduced on several sculptures attributed to the Yuan dynasty (Bigler, Before Yongle, Zurich, 2013, pp.84-95, nos.19-21). Moreover, the lotus base's plump scroll-tipped petals are redolent of bronzes from imperial Yongle workshops, many of which were sent as diplomatic gifts to the Sakya order's enclave in Gyantse.


    銅鎏金毘魯巴像
    西藏,十四或十五世紀

    喜馬拉雅藝術資源網68491號
    高14釐米(5 1/2 英吋)

    2,400,000-2,800,000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176-7,圖版42。
    Franco Ricca,《Arte Buddhista Tibetana:Dei e Demoni dell'Himalaya》,都靈,2004年,頁195,圖IV.44。

    展覽
    「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。
    「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

    此尊造像當屬存世毘魯巴像中最為華美奪目的作品之一。毘魯巴為九世紀備受崇敬的密宗尊師,亦是傳奇般的離經叛道者。毘魯巴右手高舉,呈現的正是這位大成就者一生中最富戲劇性的片段,即他能以手指停住太陽西移來逃過為酒食付帳的傳說。

    毘魯巴為薩迦派「根本上師」,亦為道果法門第一位凡人尊師。道果為密宗中舉足輕重的修行法門,其信仰今生便可開悟證道。毘魯巴曾擔任那爛陀寺住持,修《勝樂金剛密續》多年而無所成就,遂放棄修行,卻獲金剛無我佛母四灌頂,並於數年密修後最終得證「道果」。毘魯巴後來飲酒啖肉毫無禁忌,觸犯寺院眾怒,被逐出寺院,便以瑜伽士外相雲遊四方,多行奇蹟。

    毘魯巴身上懸掛的明媚花環由數個造型飽滿的花朵構成,無疑為本作品最為光彩奪目的部分之一。花環是毘魯巴像的典型裝飾,象徵著毘魯巴雲遊曠野中自由而蓬勃的生命。花環通常與毘魯巴鑄造為一體,慣例中多見毘魯巴身上浮雕般的花紋圖樣(例如一尊十五世紀毘魯巴像,售於邦瀚斯,香港,2016年11月29日,拍品102),而本件拍品中的花環卻單獨鑄造而成,造型立體,十分難得。毘魯巴的髮式同樣細緻精美,牙齒的線條清晰可見,展現出匠師精湛的工藝。

    此尊佛像可能由一位紐瓦爾匠師為西藏供養人製作。毘魯巴身體造型優美,令人賞心悅目,與同時代紐瓦爾傳統之作遙相呼應,單獨鑄造的花環亦為紐瓦爾造像的特點。除明顯的薩迦派題材外,蓮花座連珠紋下的一圈厚重平滑的邊緣亦為西藏十五世紀造像的常見特徵,體現出紐瓦爾匠師對西藏審美情趣的迎合。正如Weldon與Casey Singer所論述,紐瓦爾藝術家以高超的金屬鑄造技藝聞名於世,十四至十五世紀期間常為財力雄厚的西藏供養人製作銅像,其中又以薩迦派為甚(《The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet: Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection》,倫敦,1999年,頁176)。與本造像密切相關的兩件作品同樣可能為西藏人供養而由紐瓦爾工匠所造,一件為2015年3月16日售出於紐約邦瀚斯之十四世紀銅鎏金毘魯巴像(拍品16),另一件為收藏於Rietberg博物館的銅鎏金座銀像(編號2007.72),現被認定為跨越尼泊爾西部與藏西的卡薩馬拉王國製作。

    西藏與元朝及明朝早期宮廷間的文化交流令西藏藝術風格趨於精緻化,此尊造像正誕生於這一時期。例如,毘魯巴冥想時纏於腰及右腿的橫帶上葉狀滾紋之靈感可溯至元朝(1279-1368年)的中原絲織品,參見大都會博物館所藏一件著名的緙絲大威德金剛曼陀羅上供養人背景圖案(編號1992.54)。類似圖案亦可見於Bigler《Before Yongle》中所著錄的幾尊元朝造像(蘇黎世,2013年,頁84至95,編號19至21)。蓮花座上瘦長而飽滿的卷尖蓮瓣則引人懷想明朝永樂年間的宮廷造像,它們中的很多曾被作為宮廷的外交贈禮,不遠萬里地送至薩迦派位於甘孜的領地。
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A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF VIRUPA TIBET, 14TH/15TH CENTURY
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF VIRUPA TIBET, 14TH/15TH CENTURY
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF VIRUPA TIBET, 14TH/15TH CENTURY
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF VIRUPA TIBET, 14TH/15TH CENTURY
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