A MAGNIFICENT AND RARE LARGE SILVER AND COPPER-INLAID BRONZE FIGURE OF ACHALA TIBET, 13TH – 14TH CENTURY
- Gilt-bronze with semi-precious stone inlay
- 39.7 cm, 15 5/8 in.
Himalayan Art Resources item no. 68452
The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet: Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, October-December 1999.
Arte Buddhista Tibetana: Dei e Demoni dell' Himalaya, Palazzo Bricherasio, Turin, June-September 2004.
Rubin Museum of Art, New York, 2005-2017, on loan.
Casting the Divine: Sculptures of the Nyingjei Lam Collection, Rubin Museum of Art, New York, 2012-2013.
Franco Ricca, Arte Buddhista Tibetana: Dei e Demoni dell' Himalaya, Turin, 2004, fig. 31.
Casting the Divine. Sculptures of the Nyingjei Lam Collection, Rubin Museum of Art, New York, 2012-2013, p. 33.
In this large rendering, Achala bites his lower lip in a ferocious grimace, exposing sharp fangs. His bulging, bloodshot eyes stare in opposite directions, the right eye looking up and the left eye looking down. In each hand he grasps ritual weapons, the krodha (sword) and pasha (noose), and his body is adorned with cobras encircling the head, chest, wrists and ankles. A small figure of Akshobya adorns the flaming tresses of Achala, identifying the two deities as members of the same Buddha family.
A number of early Tibetan images of Achala has been recorded in Tibetan monastery collections that follow the iconographic pattern of the current work, see Ulrich von Schroeder, Buddhist sculptures in Tibet, Hong Kong, 2001, vol. II, pp. 1112-1113, cat. nos 291A-E. in particular, compare the exaggerated features of the current work, including the large flaming tresses; the disproportionate head almost equal in size to the torso; and the high, double-petal lotus base to another thirteen century bronze figure of Achala, see ibid., cat. no. 291D.
Also compare the pinwheel pattern on the dhoti of Achala with an identical dhoti pattern on an early thirteenth century kesi depicting Achala in the Potala Palace, see V. Reynolds, et al., On the Path to the Void: Buddhist Art in the Tibetan Realm, Mumbai, 1996, pp. 252-3, fig. 8. For a full discussion on the role of Achala in the Buddhist pantheon, see Rob Linrothe, Ruthless Compassion: Wrathful Deities in Early Indo-Tibetan Esoteric Buddhist Art, Boston, 1999.