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Later Tibetan Gallery

 

 

Lama
Tibet. 15-16th Century.
Bronze and gilding.

This lama was almost certainly made in Tibet by a Newar craftsman. The facial physiognomy and its modest, downward looking, meditative gaze reflect the Newar aesthetic very clearly. Such a facial structure would do as well on a Buddha image and we might therefore suggest that rather than being a purely portrait bronze, this is more in the nature of an idealized version of someone’s master, in a pose showing him as the Buddha.

The massive shoulders are typical of the Newar style of the 14 – 15th cent. and frequently the head size is dwarfed by the huge shoulder span and deep chest.

It is impossible to identify this figure with any certainty but from the robe style he is probably of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Interestingly, the outer robe (the sanghati) is modelled quite closely on the style often depicted in images of the Buddha with its outward movement and finely chased edging.

Held in the hand in his lap is an emblem of the so-called “flaming jewels of wisdom” suggesting that this was a master of metaphysics as much as he was a meditator. Such jewels frequently appear in a finial form on top of certain ritual items. They are relatively uncommon seen held in the lap in this manner.

Height 9.65cm

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