尺寸： TIBET, 15TH CENTURY；
Premium Lot - Online Bidding Will Not Be Available
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AKSHOBHYA
TIBET, 15TH CENTURY
With inset turquoise, garnets, and lapis, and with powdered blue lapis pigment in the hair.
Himalayan Art Resources item no.2431
34 cm (13 3/8 in.) high
Rossi & Rossi Ltd, Images of Faith: A Private Collection of Himalayan Art, London, 2008, pp.22-3, no.5.
Rossi & Rossi Ltd, Gods and Demons of the Himalayas, London, 2012, pp.31-2, no.15.
European Private Collection, acquired in the early 1990s
Rossi & Rossi Ltd
American Private Collection, acquired from the above in 2012
Lord of the East
"The importance of Akshobhya, whose very emblem is used in esoteric rituals and sacred dances in its own right, is reflected in the high number of tantric deities belonging to his family, including the tutelary deities of Buddha rank, such as Hevajra."
(Erberto Lo Bue, Images of Faith, London, 2008, p.22)
This exquisite jewel-like sculpture depicts Akshobhya, the Buddha of the East, with a powerful frame and commanding posture. He is clad in a monastic patchwork robe with prominent stitched seams converted into the finest conceivable brocaded garment of floral scrolls and raised flowers, inset with semi-precious stones. The middle fingers and thumb of his left hand cup a humble ungilded alms bowl in his lap, perhaps the only reminder of Buddhism's renunciation of material wealth on this magnificent golden sculpture.
Akshobhya's name literally means 'Immovable One'. As each Transcendental Buddha adopts one of the canonical hand gestures (mudras) referring to a key moment in Shakyamuni's life, it is apt that Akshobhya should recall Shakyamuni's unshakeable determination against the armies and temptations of Mara. In mandalas relating to his 'vajra' clan, and the Unexcelled Yoga tantras (Anuttarayoga), he occupies the center, but in the earliest tantric mandalas where the Five Transcendental Buddhas first appear, he is Lord of the eastern quadrant, and represents the transmutation of anger into wisdom.
Asserting his position as Lord of the East, this sculpture depicts Akshobhya wielding his symbol of 'adamantine power', the vajra, secured in his right hand. As the iconographer Robert Beer describes:
"The vajra or dorje is the quintessential symbol of the 'diamond vehicle' or Vajrayana Buddhist path...[it] symbolizes the impenetrable, immovable, immutable, indivisible, and indestructible state of enlightenment or Buddhahood as vajra mind.
"As the adamantine scepter of peaceful divinities and the indestructible weapon of wrathful deities, the vajra symbolizes the male principle of method or skillful means. It is held in the right or male hand."
(Beer, The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs, London, 1999, p.233)
This bronze is a rare example of Akshobhya Buddha holding his vajra in the right hand, differing from more typical depictions of it suspended vertically in his lap, resting on the lotus throne, or embedded into his throne's center. This symbolic departure from convention imbues the sculpture with heightened agency.
His powerful frame, bejeweled robe, and resolute gaze deliver a sculpture that is an aesthetic tour de force. The combination of orderly inset stones and finely incised designs are seemingly unique to this sculpture and indicates a special commission. The visionary artist has excelled beyond the application of more commonplace patchwork designs and delivered a sculpture of transcendent visual presence.
The broadness of Akshobhya's forehead and shoulders, his pronounced chest, and the flare of his robe's fishtail hem resting high on his left shoulder are stylistic elements with precedents in Newari sculpture of the 13th and 14th century. The same general physiognomic features can be observed in a Malla-style Akshobhya sold previously at Bonhams. From the present sculpture's impeccable quality, it is reasonable to assume that a Newari hand would have been involved in its creation also.
These physical characteristics remained the favored idiom throughout 15th-century Tibet, as did depicting Buddha images wearing a patchwork robe. Related Buddha images attesting to this are a mid-15th-century thangka of Shakyamuni in the British Museum (Rhie & Thurman, Wisdom and Compassion, New York, 1996, p.77, no.3), and a 15th-century gilded bronze sold at Sotheby's, New York, 30 November 1994, lot 68. In discussion of the former, Rhie & Thurman note that these elements are similar to those appearing in the 15th-century murals of Tabo monastery in Western Tibet, suggesting "a wide distribution of artistic styles at the time, particularly between central and western regions" (op. cit.).
Rhie & Thurman also remark that by the second half of the 15th century there appears to be a deliberate transition away from the imposing monumentality of 13th and 14th century styles, towards a "process of refinement and elaboration".
The appearance of monks and buddhas dressed in patchwork robes in Tibetan art dates as far back as the Chidar, otherwise known as the second wave of Tibet's apprenticeship of Indian Buddhism between the 11th and 13th centuries. But in Tibet, more precious garments rapidly replaced the humble Indian patchwork robe. By the 15th century, the patchwork robe is transformed into the finest conceivable garment of the period, a transformation that perfectly exemplifies the "refinement and elaboration" of this period.
At least one painted mural and one monumental clay sculpture at the Gyantse Kumbum draw an uncanny resemblance to the present sculpture's robe. Both are dated to the first years of the Kumbum's construction in the 2nd quarter of the 15th century. Each shares the design of narrow strips with floral sprays bordering rectangular panels with a central flower roundel. The striking likeness between these three sculptures suggests they were produced by the same network of artists, if not at Gyantse itself.
The Kumbum at the heart of the Sakya Pelchor Chode enclave in Gyantse is one of the largest structures in Tibet, constructed between 1427-74. With strong ties to the emperors of the early Ming (1st half of the 15th century), the presiding Sakya monks received innumerable diplomatic gifts in the form of Buddha images and fine textiles. This is attested by the significant holdings of Yongle and Xuande mark and period bronzes and scrolls in Gyantse repositories (see Thomas Laird, Murals of Tibet, Taschen, forthcoming 2018).
A result of this climate of great cultural exchange between China and Tibet, the large roundels within the primary hemlines of the Gyantse and present Buddha images are informed by late Yuan-/early Ming-dynasty textiles, such as a patchwork panel with similar patterns held in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Similar design is also reflected in a lacquered and painted leather box in The Metropolitan Museum of Art that was mostly likely made for a Tibetan visitor to the Chinese court. Stemming from the Yuan period, the foliate scrolls within the present robe's narrower strips also bear a strong resemblance to the decoration on Yuan-dynasty sculpture published by Bigler, Before Yongle, Zurich, 2013, pp.84-95, nos.19-21.
While related to the murals and clay sculptures of Gyantse, the present sculpture remains the only known gilt bronze with this impressive incised and inset treatment of its robe. Both techniques are ubiquitous throughout Tibetan bronze sculpture, and yet the convention of using inset stones to pattern textiles – in addition to jewelry – appears unique to the 14th and 15th centuries. One of few other instances where we see semi-precious stones being used to signify textile patterns is at Densatil. However, unlike the sculptures of Densatil, this Akshobhya may be the only known Tibetan bronze to embellish its textile design with both inset stones and incised patterns simultaneously.
The present lot is a gleaming testament to a period in Tibetan art history when both patron and artist sought to cherish their images with greater elaboration and refinement. The previous humility of the Buddha's simple patchwork robe has transformed into one of the finest and rarest examples in gilded sculpture. Certain design elements lock the time of production within the 15th century, resulting from cultural exchange between prominent Tibetan monastic enclaves and the late Yuan and early Ming Imperial courts. An example of one such pivotal enclave, which still holds many relevant imperial gifts, and has closely related Buddha images remaining in situ, is the Sayka Pelchor Chode in Gyantse, suggesting a possible place of production for the bronze here or somewhere within its artistic sphere of influence. And yet this potent image of Akshobhya, the immovable Lord of the East, stands high among surviving gilt bronzes as one of the most beautiful Buddha images from Tibet.
高34釐米（13 3/8 英吋）
15,000,000 - 25,000,000港元
Rossi & Rossi Ltd，Images of Faith: A Private Collection of Himalayan Art ，倫敦，2008年，頁22－23，5號
Rossi & Rossi Ltd，Gods and Demons of the Himalayas，倫敦，2012年9月，頁31－32，15號
Rossi & Rossi Ltd
（Erberto Lo Bue，Images of Faith，倫敦，2008年，頁22）
（Beer，The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs，倫敦，1999年，頁233）
千佛塔地處江孜白居寺一帶之中心，是西藏最大的建築結構之一，於1427年至1474年間建成。 高層寺僧於明朝早期（十五世紀上半葉）皇帝關係密切，曾收取大量外交饋贈，包括佛造像及高級織物。江孜擁有大量帶有永樂宣德款的佛像及書畫，便是對上述事實的有力證明（參見Thomas Laird，Murals of Tibet, 塔申出版社，計畫於2018年發行）。