A SILVER FIGURE OF CHATURBHUJA MAHAKALA TIBET, CIRCA 16TH CENTURY
Himalayan Art Resources item no. 68324
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.
This diminutive figure of Chaturbhuja Mahakala is exceptional in its fine silver casting and exacting detail. The four-armed wrathful deity retains traces of cold gold and polychromy to the face and head, accentuating his flaming hair, eyebrows and beard; three bloodshot eyes; gaping mouth and fearsome fangs. The wild hair is closely cropped and layered, rather than the upward-flowing fiery locks typically associated with Mahakala. Terrifying cobras incised with crosshatching, heads cocked and mouths agape, encircle Mahakala's earrings, torso, sword hilt, wrists and ankles. The wonderfully articulated feet and toes twist and writhe with kinetic energy.
Mahakala wears the six bone ornaments and an animal skin wrapped around his thick waist. Compare the pinwheel pattern on the dhoti of Mahakala with a similar pinwheel pattern on a thirteenth/fourteenth century bronze figure of Achala, see lot 3104; and also on an early thirteenth century kesi depicting Achala in the Potala Palace, see Valrae Reynolds, et al., On the Path to the Void: Buddhist Art in the Tibetan Realm, Mumbai, 1996, pp. 252-253, fig. 8.