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Large, Gilded Bronze Image of a Gelugpa Lama
1850-1890, possibly later
height: 40cm, width: 26.8cm, depth: 16.7cm
This impressive and unusually large gilded (gold-plated) bronze image of a monk or lama and possibly a past Dalai Lama is likely to have been cast in China
for the Tibetan market or for local adherents to Tibetan Buddhism.
Its shows a monk with a particularly well-cast face with a slight smile seated on a rectangular double cushion that has been richly engraved with floral motifs.
He wears a tall hat with long side lappets that fall away over both shoulders. His hair is visible at the back and has been painted black. There are two neck
folds at the front.
His long robes are edged with scrolling foliate borders and they are tuck in under him and fall away over the side of the cushions on which he sits.
He sits in paryankasana, with his right hand is raised, and his left hand is in the folds of his robe with the thumb exposed.
The robes at the back have been cast with strong, sharp folds that radiate to the sides.
The back carries an inscription ostensibly in Tibetan but only one or two words are discernible. The inscription is either is a regional form of Tibetan that has
become very degraded, or was added by the casters because they felt that such an image should have an inscription but they had little understanding of
Tibetan script. This would point to the image having been cast in China or the outer regions of Tibet.
Emperors of the Qing dynasty, especially Qianlong (1736-1796) patronised Tibetan Buddhism for both religious and political reasons, most particularly in
subduing Mongolia. An important part of the policy was the manufacture of metal sculptures for use locally but also for export to Mongolia and Tibet itself.
The base is open; the consecration no longer is present.
There are minor areas of age-related surface erosion but these are small and stable. Overall, this is a highly decorative sculpture of unusual size. It is well
cast and the wear to the gilding gives the surface a pleasing soft hue.
Clarke, J. pers. comm.
Lipton, B., & N.D. Ragnubs, Treasures of Tibetan Art: Collections of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, Oxford University Press, 1996.
Pal, P., Art from the Himalayas & China: Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum, Yale University Press, 2003.
Weldon, D., & J. Casey, Faces of Tibet: The Wesley and Carolyn Halpert Collection, Carlton Rochell, 2003.
Provenance: acquired from the estate of a private English collector who is believed to have acquired the image in Paris shortly after the Second World War.
Inventory no.: 4333
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