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
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.