Lot 3106
  • 3106

A RARE SILVER-INLAID GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF KURUKULLA EASTERN INDIA, PALA, 12TH CENTURY

Estimate
800,000 - 1,200,000 HKD
Sold
1,187,500 HKD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Gilt-bronze with silver inlay
  • 9.8 cm, 3 7/8  in.
seated in vajraparyankasana on a double-lotus throne, the four-armed goddess with the primary left and right hands holding a bow and an arrow respectively, the secondary left hand holding a lotus stalk and the secondary right hand held in varadamudra, the head gently tilted and surmounted with a crown, the figure depicted clad a dhoti with an elaborate girdle and adorned with ornamental jewellery, including earring, armbands, bracelets and necklaces

Himalayan Art Resources item no. 68321

Exhibited

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 2002-2005, on loan.
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.

Catalogue Note

This elegant, miniature yidam or meditational deity Kurukulla is an emanation of the bodhisattva Red Tara. She is also known as Tarodbhava Kurukulla, or the Tara-arisen Kurukulla. She is depicted here in the form of an alluring sixteen-year-old girl, and in this manifestation she is invoked to magnetise and enchant negative forces to overcome outer, inner and secret obstacles. The cult of the goddess Tara originated in India, and was later introduced into Tibet by Atisha Dipamkara in the eleventh century.

This small and masterful figure demonstrates the elegance and artistic innovation for which art from the Pala period is renowned: the relaxed plasticity of form; the slender physiognomy and elaborate jewellery; the highly stylised floral and vegetative motifs; and the extensive use of precious metal inlay. 

Kurukulla is depicted here with a rich, lustrous gilding and patination. The silver inlay to the eyes, forehead and necklace stand out in vivid contrast to the gentle face, sweetly gazing upwards. Her plaited hair is piled in a high chignon, ornamented with a lotus bud finial and a crown secured around the back of the head with a cast sash. The primary right hand is held up in varadamudra, the secondary right hand holds an arrow aloft. The primary left hand grasps the stem of a lotus flower, and the secondary right hand holds aloft a bow.  

Compare the sensuous form, jewellery type, and thin-petalled lotus accoutrement with a twelfth century Tibetan figure of Tara, see Susan L. Huntington and John C. Huntington, Leaves from the Bodhi Tree: The Art of Pala India (Eighth-Twelfth Centuries) and Its International Legacy, Seattle, 1990, figs 127-128. Also compare the misaligned lotus throne with wide petals with a contemporaneous lotus throne and stepped base, see ibid. fig. 151; as well as the base of a twelfth century Pala period stylistic predecessor, see Ulrich von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, p. 282, cat. no. 69A.   

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