'THE IMMUTABLE ONE'
ENGRAVED AND GILDED SCULPTURE LEADS BONHAMS IMAGES OF DEVOTION SALE


Images of Devotion
3 Oct 2017
Hong Kong, Admiralty

A Tibetan bronze featuring an exquisite robe adorned with both inset stones and incised patterns is the top lot at Bonhams Images of Devotion sale on Tuesday 3 October at Bonhams Hong Kong, Admiralty. Carrying an estimate of HK$15,000,000-25,000,000, this exceptionally rare sculpture is the only known of its kind.

The bronze depicts Akshobhya, the Buddha of the East, in an ornate patchwork robe, wielding his vajra - the symbol of Buddhism's power - in his right hand and with an ungilded alms bowl in his lap. The bowl, and the patchwork robe, are enduring symbols of Buddhism's renunciation of the material world; and yet by the time of this sculpture's creation in 15th-century Tibet, the humble robe had been transformed into the finest conceivable garment of the period.

Bonhams Global Head of Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art, Edward Wilkinson commented, "This immaculate bronze of Akshobhya points to a special commission - possibly unique in its use of incised and inset techniques to replicate textile patterns. The robe's hemline features large engraved floral roundels inspired by the luxurious gold-brocaded silks dispatched to prominent Tibetan monasteries as gifts by the late Yuan and early Ming imperial courts. The bronze perfectly exemplifies a special period in Tibetan art history when patron and artist strove to achieve greater refinement and elaboration, making it one of the most beautiful Buddha images from Tibet."

The sale also features The Sonnery Kurkihar Buddha, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, from the mediaeval Pala Empire of Northeastern India, formerly in the noted collection of Jean-Louis Melchior Sonnery de Fromental. The standing Crowned Buddha from Kurkihar is a canonical image in Buddhist art executed during the pinnacle of Pala sculpture's golden age in the 11th century. The Sonnery Kurkihar Buddha has a beautiful unexcavated patina that suggests it may have travelled to Tibet between the 11th-13th centuries during a period of great cultural exchange known as 'the chidar'. A potential cornerstone for any collection addressing the history of Buddhism, it is the most important Pala bronze to be auctioned in recent memory. It is estimated at HK$8,000,000-12,000,000.

Other highlights include:

• A gilt copper alloy figure of Vajravarahi, Central Tibet, circa 14th century is expected to achieve HK$4,500,000-5,000,000. The fierce goddess assumes an elegant dancer's posture while a garland of dried skulls drapes across her bare torso.
• Superbly carved with full-bodied lotuses in bloom, a black stone stele of Khasarpana Lokeshvara, Bihar or Bengal, Pala Period, 11th/12th century carries an estimate of HK$3,000,000-4,000,000.

International preview dates
New York: 7-10 September at Bonhams, 580 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022.

Taipei: 23-24 September at Le Meridien, No.38 SongRen Road, Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan.

Hong Kong: 28 September - 3 October at Bonhams, Suite 2001, One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong.

Contacts
  1. Mark Rasmussen
    Specialist
    Bonhams
    Work
    580 Madison Avenue
    New York, United States 10022
    Work +1 917 206 1688
    FaxFax: +1 212 644 9007

Related auctions