3458
3458
A RARE GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF VAJRAPANI
MARK AND PERIOD OF YONGLE
Estimate
5,000,0007,000,000
JUMP TO LOT
3458
A RARE GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF VAJRAPANI
MARK AND PERIOD OF YONGLE
Estimate
5,000,0007,000,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Gems of Chinese Art – The Speelman Collection II

|
Hong Kong

A RARE GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF VAJRAPANI
MARK AND PERIOD OF YONGLE
seated in vajraparyankasana on a double-lotus base, the right arm raised holding a vajra and the other lifted in tarjanimudra before the chest, the swaying figure wearing a dhoti falling into elegant pleats, draped with a celestial scarf around the shoulders and arms, the chest and the waist adorned by elaborate beaded necklaces, the face with a benevolent expression, with wheel-shaped earrings attached to the pendulous earlobes, surmounted by a five-leaf diadem around a high chignon, the lotus base incised with a six-character reign mark reading Da Ming Yongle nian shi, the underside of the figure sealed with a panel incised with a double vajra
21 cm, 8 1/8  in.
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Catalogue Note

This finely cast gilt-bronze figure of the bodhisattva Vajrapani, the ‘Vajra Holder’, represents a group of Buddhist figures made on the orders of the Imperial Court in China during the first half of the 15th century that displayed a style influenced by the art of Tibet. According to Ulrich von Schroeder in Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Hong Kong, 2001, vol. II, pp 1237-91, fifty-four Da Ming Yongle nian zhi works have been documented in Tibetan monastery collections, most of which are held in Potala Palace, Tibet. During the Yuan dynasty, the authority of Mongol rulers had become closely associated with the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy and, as a result, in their religious practice closely followed Tibetan rituals and ceremonies. The close link between the Ming government and the Tibetan Lamas continued in the fifteenth century and prevailed in works such as the present figure. Missions to Tibet were carried out which sought to maintain good relations with the Tibetan Lamas, and images such as this figure were exchanged as gifts.

In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, Vajrapani is one of the eight heart-sons of Shakyamuni Buddha, portrayed in a peaceful appearance. In the Vajrayana tradition, however, Vajrapani is more typically shown in a wrathful form and known as Guhyapati - 'the Lord of Secrets.' He is said to be the main recipient, holder, and protector of all the Tantra texts, literature, and teachings received from Shakyamuni Buddha.

From the model of the Lower Tantras, Vajrapani symbolizes the body of all Buddhas of the ten directions and represents enlightened activity. Vajrapani is a meditational deity, and considered a Buddha, with numerous forms found in all of the four levels of Tantra classification and popular in all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism - new and old. 

For two closely related Yongle gilt-bronze figures of Vajrapani of the same size in the collection of the Potala Palace, Lhasa, see Ulrich von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Hong Kong, 2001, vol. II, p. 1256-7, pl. 346A-C. Other examples include one from the Berti Aschmann Collection in the Museum Rietberg, illustrated in Helmut Uhlig, On the Path to Enlightenment: The Berti Aschmann Foundation of Tibetan Art at the Museum Rietberg, Zurich, 1995, pp. 106-107, pl. 59 (fig. 1), and another  illustrated in Buddhist Images in Gilt Metal, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 1993, cat. no. 65.

Gems of Chinese Art – The Speelman Collection II

|
Hong Kong