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A gilt-copper alloy figure of Paramasukha-Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi, Tibet, 15th century

Lot | Sotheby's

A gilt-copper alloy figure of Paramasukha-Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi, Tibet, 15th century. Photo Sotheby’s

the sensuously modeled heruka Chakramsamvara stands in fierce alidhasana, with four faces, two legs and twelve arms holding myriad cast ritual weapons and embracing Vajravarahi, both deities wearing the six bone ornaments and five-pointed crowns adorned with golden finials, rows of pearl beading and luxuriantly inlaid with turquoise in the Newari style, the primary head of Chakrasamvara with blue polychromy and high jatamukata marked with avishvavajra. Height 10 3/4  in., 27 cm. Estimation 140,000180,000 USD

Provenance: Private French Collection, acquired 1970s.
Distinguished New York Collection.

This elegant sculpture of Paramasukha-Chakramsavara and his consort Vajravarahi in ecstatic union demonstrates the apex of the classical Central Tibetan style derived from Nepalese artists in its luxuriant gilding, elegant beading, and exuberant use of semi-precious stone inlay in the regal jewels and headdresses. The present work exhibits many of the hallmarks of the de rigueur Nepalese style with low hairline and broad forehead; wide almond-shaped eyes; wide, powerful shoulders; dynamic movement and posture; elaborate beaded jewelry and tassels; and solid cast ritual implements.

Chakramsavara and Vajravarahi wear the tantric adornments of the six bone ornaments representing the six paramitas or perfections. These textural bone ornaments appear in beaded rows in the present work, and also represent the Five Dhyani Buddhas: (1) the crown of the head, symbolizing dhyana or concentration and Buddha Akshobhya; (2) the earrings that symbolize kshanti or patience and the Buddha Amitabha; (3) the necklace that symbolizes dana or generosity and Buddha Ratnasambhava; (4) the armlets and anklets that symbolize shila or discipline and the Buddha Vairocana; (5) the girdle and apron that symbolizes virya or exertion and Buddha Amoghasiddhi; and (6) the crisscrossed torso ornament that symbolizes prajña or wisdom and Buddha Vajradhara. From Chakrasamvara’s neck hangs a garland of fifty-one severed heads strung on a length of human intestine and the hair of a corpse, signifying both the purification of speech and the purification of the fifty-one mental factors according to the Cittamatraor Mind-Only School as described by Asanga.

Compare stylistic elements with a fifteenth century turquoise inset gilt-bronze Vajrabhairava in the Potala Collection, Lhasa, see Ulrich von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Vol. II, Hong Kong, 2001, p. 1051, pl. 265C. Compare also a fifteenth century turquoise inset Kalachakra in a private collection, see Jan Van Alphen, Cast for Eternity, Antwerp, 2004, p. 211, cat. no. 72.

Himalayan Art Resources item no. 23395. 

Sotheby’s. Images of Enlightenment: Devotional Works of Art and Paintings, New York | 17 sept. 2014, 10:00 AM