A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF MAITREYA KHASA MALLA, 13TH/14TH CENTURY

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Lot 616
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF MAITREYA
KHASA MALLA, 13TH/14TH CENTURY

Sold for US$ 680,075 inc. premium
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF MAITREYA
KHASA MALLA, 13TH/14TH CENTURY
Himalayan Art Resources item no.16802
12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm) high

Footnotes

  • 卡薩馬拉王朝 十三/十四世紀 銅鎏金彌勒菩薩像

    This magnificent gilt bronze sculpture of Maitreya, The Future Buddha, originates from the enigmatic Khasa Malla kingdom, which ruled the Karnali Basin of western Nepal and part of western Tibet between the 12th and 14th centuries. The bronze is quite exceptional, not only for its size, being larger than most identified Khasa Malla bronzes, but also for its clear refinement and beauty.

    Maitreya, whose name derives from the Sanskrit word 'maitri', meaning 'benevolence' or 'loving kindness', is shown seated here in lalitasana—a relaxed posture of ease—one leg folded and the other pendant, while he leans on his left wrist. Despite his languid pose, his toes remain flexed, which is a delightful detail that signals the bodhisattva remains alert from his celestial abode to the suffering of others. With a puckered smile, he raises his right hand in abhaya mudra to reassure his followers. From the sculpture's base rise two exquisitely modeled lotuses in bloom by his shoulders, the left supporting a kundika vase. The vase is an attribute used to identify Maitreya, along with the miniature stupa surmounting his tall chignon.

    Mastering both detail and form, the artist has created a resplendent gilded image with an elegant presence. Draped over the figure's left shoulder is an antelope skin, which is a relatively uncommon iconographic feature for Maitreya in Tibetan art, more often seen in Nepalese and Mongolian sculpture (e.g. HAR 21853, 57205, 61523 & 65413). The deerskin's diminutive size adds a sense of monumentality to the bodhisattva who wears it. Maitreya's smooth, golden skin and shapely physique provide a perfect foil for his jewelry's crisp definition. Lavish silks in the form of a short, pleated dhoti grace his thighs, incised with delicate patterns that attest to the artist's dexterity.

    Despite the Khasa Malla kingdom being known to western scholars from historical records by the mid-20th century, it was not until 1994 that the first artwork was securely attributed to them. While researching an idiosyncratic gilt bronze goddess in the National Museum of Asian Art, Washington D.C. (1986.23M), Ian Alsop discovered the kingdom being mentioned by name in the inscription (see Alsop, "The Metal Sculpture of the Khasa Malla Kingdom" in Singer & Denwood (eds.), Tibetan Art, Towards a Definition of Style, London, 1997, pp.68-79). Since then a number of paintings and sculptures have been attributed to the Khasa Mallas, whose enthusiastic Buddhist patronage gave rise to a distinctive sculptural tradition of marked quality.

    The art of the Khasa Mallas took inspiration from its neighboring cultures, incorporating stylistic elements from the Kathmandu Valley, West Tibet, and Pala India. As the Khasa Mallas had close contact with the Newars in Kathmandu, influences from the Valley frequently prevail. For example, the present figure's sensuous modeling and broad countenance are characteristic of the famed Newari 'Standing Padmapanis', such as one contemporaneous to the present sculpture, held by the Rubin Museum of Art (C2005.16.8).

    Many stylistic details used to identify Khasa Malla bronzes are not exclusive to the kingdoms' style, but their aggregation generally distinguishes them from other known artistic traditions. One notable Khasa Malla feature absent from the present bronze is a detailing of the figure's knuckles. However, this bronze displays another strong Khasa Malla feature by the manner in which the sash fanning out before the ankles is cast on the base rather than the figure. Other typical characteristics are the base's plain back and large beaded upper rim. In contrast to the Rubin Padmapani (C2005.16.8), the present bronze exhibits the Khasa Malla's predilection for fleshier faces and figures, further pronouncing the auspiciousness of a well-nourished being unencumbered by the harsh realities of mortal existence. Relaxed and awaiting his messianic charge, this perfectly cast apparition of The Future Buddha is a masterpiece of Khasa Malla sculpture.

    Provenance
    Chino Roncoroni
    Private Swiss Collection, acquired from the Paris Art Market, 2009
Contacts
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF MAITREYA KHASA MALLA, 13TH/14TH CENTURY
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF MAITREYA KHASA MALLA, 13TH/14TH CENTURY
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF MAITREYA KHASA MALLA, 13TH/14TH CENTURY
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF MAITREYA KHASA MALLA, 13TH/14TH CENTURY
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