Lot 3147
  • 3147


180,000 - 250,000 HKD
400,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • gilt bronze
  • 8¼in. high; 6¾in. wide
the lama seated in vajraparyankasana on a double-lotus throne with the right hand lowered in bhumisparshamudra and the left hand held in dhyanamudra at the lap, depicted with a joyful countenance below a distinctive receding hairline with polychromy, wearing a patchwork inner vest and outer robe heightened with rows of beaded pearls and incised with sunburst and foliate motifs, the lotus throne with Tibetan inscription 

Himalayan Art Resources item no. 13448


Christie's London, 11th December 1973, lot 34.


Ulrich von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, p. 445, no. 120D.

Catalogue Note

The Tibetan inscription on the lotus platform identifies this as Yang Gönpa (Tibetan: Homage to Yang Gönpa), as it is likely that this refers to Gyalwa Yang Gönpa Gyaltsen Pal (1213-1258), a beloved yogi in the Drukpa Kagyü lineage. He was known as one of the “Three Victorious Ones”, together with his teacher Gyalwa Götsangpa, a Drukpa lineage master, and Gyalwa Lorepa, for their contributions to the rising wave of non-sectarian practice. As is so common in the Tibetan tradition, his name derives from the name of his first retreat hermitage, Yang Gön, where he engaged in his first retreat on female deity Vajravarahi. Yang Gönpa wrote a number of significant esoteric treatises on retreat practice, Mahamudra hermeneutics, and a commentary on the Six Yogas on Naropa, amongst others, which are still in use today and are the basis of a number of commentaries by such historical Tibetan luminaries as Jigme Lingpa, the Eight Karmapa Mikyö Dorje, and Tsongkhapa.

This beautiful portrait appears to be a tender representation of Yang Gönpa. He sits cross-legged and vividly alert, his round eyes looking straight ahead, with a gentle smile on his lips. His receding hairline and square jaw are poignantly captured. He wears an inner patchwork robe, incised with an abstract sunburst motif at the shoulder and back. This outer patchwork robe is heightened with beaded pearls and incised with three flowers—one at the verso behind the left shoulder, and two at the corner hems of the robe, by the shins. 

Compare the base elements of upper and lower rows of thick beaded pearls and double row of ovoid petals with upturned tips and leaves with another fifteenth century gilt bronze figure of an unidentified lama, see Ulrich von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Hong Kong, 2001, vol. II, pp. 1062-1063, cat. no. 271E.

Rooms with a View:
Property from a Hampstead Collection

All collections are imbued with the personality of their owners. And sometimes there is a further distinctive dimension: a sense of the place in which they were brought together. Besides being a collection of great character and discrimination, this is also in many ways a specifically Hampstead collection, assembled and enjoyed over many years in a beautiful house in this leafy and still Bohemian corner of London, that since the 18th century has been home to artists, poets and writers, and which today still remains home to actors, film directors, architects and designers.

I knew the owners of this collection well, and remember the warm and civilised atmosphere of their house. They were in the art world, and as such they bought works with an insider’s knowledge as well as with natural good taste. Their appreciation of British art of the twentieth century is self-evident and based on a deep understanding of its place in European modern art of the same period. What is surprising, perhaps, is their appreciation of Tibetan portrait lamas, which they collected long before they became the global phenomenon we know today.

Collections that evolve and live in specific houses have a unique magic. Great things sit alongside lesser things in easy harmony, reflecting the equal aesthetic and emotional value placed on them by their owners. These are works that have been lived with and appreciated in their relationship to each other over many years. ‘Only Connect’, wrote the British novelist E. M. Forster in Howard’s End, ‘Only Connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted... Live in fragments no longer.’ The owners of this collection most emphatically did that. 

Philip Hook, Senior Director of Modern & Impressionist Art, Sotheby’s London