Lot 3140
  • 3140

A RARE SILVER AND GILT-COPPER BUDDHIST TRIAD WITH SEMI-PRECIOUS STONE INLAY EASTERN INDIA, PALA, 12TH CENTURY

Estimate
4,000,000 - 6,000,000 HKD
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Description

  • bronze, silver
the three deities seated atop lotus thrones with a single supporting stalk, with stepped base heightened with a single row of beaded pearls, the central deity Shadakshari Lokeshvara with flaming mandorla and high jatamukata adorned with jewel finial, wearing the bodhisattva jewellery and striped diaphanous dhoti, the primary hands in anjalimudra and secondary hands holding a lotus and mala, Manidhara seated in rajalilasana holding a vertical vajra in the right hand with the left hand holding a lotus, Shadakshari Lokeshvara or Mahavidya seated in vajraparyankasa holding a mala in the right hand and a lotus in the left

Himalayan Art Resources item no. 13441

Catalogue Note

This rare sculpture highlights the finesse of the medieval eastern Indian sculptors and metalworkers with its attention to miniature detail and mastery of poise. The complex and delicately modelled Buddhist triad is an excellent example of the refinement of Pala figuration. Executed during the height of Bengal's Golden Age, the current work 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 diverse application of precious metals and semi-precious stones.

The three seated deities are cast in silver, their faces heightened with cold gold and with traces of polychromy to the faces and hair. The stepped base, lotus stalk and triple thrones are cast in copper, then gilded and inlaid with semi-precious stones in the numerous apertures at the base and central deity. Compare the stepped base and triple stalk elements with a slightly earlier eleventh century Pala-period bronze triad from the Red Palace in Lhasa, see Ulrich von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Hong Kong, 2001, vol. I, pp. 272-273, cat. nos 88C-D (fig. 1); and also the tall, ribbed jatamukata, crown, finial, and fanning sash with an eleventh/twelfth century Pala-period bronze triad also in the Red Palace, ibid., pp. 270-271, cat. no. 87B.  

The deities depicted in the current work represent the archetypal Buddhist triad of the deities of the shadakshari or six-syllabled mantra “om mani padme hum.” The central figure is Shadakshari Lokeshvara, holding the primary hands in anjalimudra at the heart center and clutching a wish-fulfilling gem between them. The secondary left hand holds a lotus flower, and the right hand holds a mala or rosary. He wears the bodhisattva jewellery, a yagñopavitum across the left shoulder, and an ankle-length striped dhoti secured with an elegant flourish at the back. To the proper left of Shadakshari Lokeshvara appears to be a smaller Shadakshari Lokeshvara or Shadakshari Mahavidya, whose posture and attributes mirror those of the central deity. To the proper right of Shadakshari Lokeshvara is Manidhara, the holder (dhara) of the jewel (mani), seated in rajalilasana, or the posture of royal ease. His left hand rests on his knee, holding the stem of a stylised lotus flower. The elbow of the left arm rests of the raised left knee, and the left hand holds his characteristic jewel.  

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