Lot 3110
  • 3110


400,000 - 600,000 HKD
1,437,500 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Bronze
  • 14 cm, 5 1/2  in.
seated in vajraparyankasana on a double-lotus pedestal, the face with a benevolent expression, below a receding chased hairline, the hands folded in dhyanamudra at the lap, a mala or rosary wrapped around the right wrist, with richly embroidered inner and outer robes incised with foliate, geometric and animal motifs, the root guru incised at the heart centre, the reverse with two inscriptions in Lantsa and Tibetan script

Himalayan Art Resources item no. 68474


Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1996-2005, on loan.
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.
Stable as a Mountain: Gurus in Himalayan Art, Rubin Museum of Art, New York, 2009.
Casting the Divine: Sculptures of the Nyingjei Lam Collection, Rubin Museum of Art, New York, 2012-2013.


David Weldon and Jane Casey Singer, The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet: Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection, London, 1999, fig. 55.

Catalogue Note

This delightful bronze, so elegantly executed, is a magnificent example of Tibetan portraiture, one of many fine examples from the Nyingjei Lam Collection. Portraiture in Tibetan culture often captures the unique and idiosyncratic countenance of a beloved teacher, as a method of tender devotion to their memory. In the current work, one finds a deeply lifelike rendering of the lama, including such personal features as his high cheekbones, receding hairline, and the mala or rosary worn around the left wrist.

From the inscription on the verso, the lama depicted is Chöjé Senggé. There are two inscriptions on the verso of the bronze, the upper inscription in the Lantsa script. The lower Tibetan inscription reads: 

This deed was carried out to commemorate Chöjé Senggé’s passing. The statue was made by Gyalgupa.

It is possible that this refers to the thirteenth abbot of Katok Monastery in Eastern Tibet, the Nyingma lama Chöjé Jangchub Senggé (ca. 1372-1439). The commemorative portraiture, the presence of the incised root guru at heart centre, the fine double inscriptions, and the elaborate chasing of the bronze indicating richly embroidered silk robes all support the identification of this figure as a high lama. 

Based on the date of Chöjé Jangchub Senggé's death, the presumption that a portrait would have been executed by an artist who knew the deceased well enough to recreate his countenance, as well as the dedicatory information gleaned from the inscription, the bronze can reasonably be dated to the mid-fifteenth century. The presence of Chöjé Senggé's sumptuous robes also support this dating, as the representation of these kinds of Chinese-style embroidered textiles in bronzes and thangkas became more prevalent during the fifteenth century, reflecting Tibet's deepening relationship with the late Yuan and early Ming imperial courts. 

The current work bears striking similarity to two circa sixteenth century bronze figures depicting a lama identified by inscription as Senggé Gyaltsen, published in Donald Dinwiddie, ed., Portraits of the Masters: Bronze Sculptures of the Tibetan Buddhist Lineages, Chicago, pp. 342-346, pls 101 and 102, and sold at Bonhams New York, 14th March 2017, lots 3283 and 3284.

All three figures wear a distinctive inner robe with a square flap with a medallion at their chest, of which Dinwiddie suggests an association with the Vinaya lineage introduced into Tibet by the Kashmiri master Shakyashribhadra. Further, all three figures bear inscriptions in both the Lantsa and Tibetan scripts, and also wear similar robes wonderfully chased with foliate motifs and Lantsa seed syllables. The hands of all three figures are precisely folded in dhyanamudra, and both the current work and pl. 101 wear a mala or rosary on the left wrist. The current work and pl. 102 also have a similar receding hairline, which is also slightly visible under the cap of the figure in pl. 101. The relationship between the three figures is powerfully compelling, and as all three figures have "Senggé" in their names, it is possible that all three works depict the same glorious figure.