Lot 905
  • 905

A COPPER ALLOY STUPA EASTERN INDIA, 12TH CENTURY |

Estimate
10,000 - 15,000 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Height 8 3/8  in. (21.3 cm.)
the bell-shaped stupa with beaded edge around the base surmounted by a double lotus band and three beaded and rimmed edges, atop sits a square plinth with a cone-shaped, stepped harmika, capped with a budding lotus finial and crowned with a sun and crescent moon flanked with celestial ribbons; base unsealed Himalayan Art Resources item no. 13625.

Provenance

Acquired early 1980's. 

Catalogue Note

The form of the stupa is considered to be a symbol of the Buddha’s body, speech and mind. Originally built as large funerary mounds to honor and hold the relics of the Buddha after his death, the form was promulgated largely by Ashoka during the 3rd century BCE during the initial building program at Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh. Smaller models such as these later became devotional images in their own right and shifted Buddhism from a religion based on site-specific practices to one where devotional objects became portable. 

The form of a stupa is assumed to represent the five elements moving upwards from the base representing earth, the dome shape representing the element of water, the conical shape representing the element of fire, the crescent moon symbolizing wind and the sun representing the element of space. This type of stupa is known in Tibet as a Kadam Chorten, the style coming from an interpretation of the Indian model that was carried to Tibet during the eleventh century by the Great Indian master Atisha. This specific form commemorates the parinirvana, or passing of the Buddha, at Kushinagara. The simplicity of the design is meant to reflect the complete transcendence of the Buddha into the dharmakaya, or ‘ultimate reality.’ 

This rare and early stupa carries its own storied provenance, as it is purported to have been carried by Atisha into Tibet, residing in Nyenthang Monastery in Lokha, Tibet. It was later offered to the Monastery of Tsorbu in Tibet, Lhasa, where is stayed until 1959. 
For further discussion of this form and for another example see Robert A.F. Thurman and David Weldon’s Sacred Symbols: The Ritual Art of Tibet, New York, cat. 4, p. 18-19.

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