Lot 3149
  • 3149


120,000 - 180,000 HKD
350,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • gilt bronze
  • 7¾in. high; 7in. wide
the lama seated in vajraparyankasana atop an antelope skin and large cushion, with downcast eyes and a meditative expression, the right hand resting on the right knee and the left hand holding a flaming jewel, wearing inner and outer patchwork robes incised with geometric and foliate motifs

Himalayan Art Resources item no. 13450


Christie's London, 11th December 1973, lot 36.

Catalogue Note

This majestic figure of an unknown lama, possibly a hierarch from the Kagyü lineage, is a very fine example of Tibetan portraiture. Historical figures depicted in bronze can be identified through a dedicatory inscription; through distinguishing physical characteristics commonly associated with canonized figures; through their clothing or personal attributes; through iconography including mudra, posture or attribute; or, most often, through a combination of all of these.

The large cushion upon which the lama sits atop an antelope skin indicates that the sculpture was made during his lifetime or shortly after his death, as it was the convention to portray living figures seated on a cushion rather than on a lotus throne. The richly embellished hems of the outer robe on the current work, heightened with geometric and foliate motif, indicate an important ordained or monastic figure. Further, the depiction atop a deer or antelope skin indicates the mahasiddha appearance and the attainment of mahamudra. The flaming jewel in the left hand provides an identifying attribute, often associated with lamas in the Karma Kagyü tradition. Further, Karma Kagyü lamas are frequently depicted with a particular kind of foliate motif in the embellished hems of their outer robes, such as in the present lot.

Compare the cushion on the present lot with a sixteenth century bronze portrait depicting the Fifth Karmapa, Deshin Shekpa, see Donald Dinwiddie, et al., Portraits of the Masters: Bronze Sculptures of the Tibetan Buddhist Lineages, Chicago, 2003, pp. 166-9, cat. no. 31. Compare also a sixteenth century bronze portrait of a Kagyü lama with rounded cushion atop an antelope skin from the Carolyn and Wesley Halpert Collection, see Himalayan Art Resources item no. 90810.