Brass Kadam Stupa (Chorten)
circa 13th century or later
height: 34.5cm, diameter of base: 16cm, weight: 2,676g
This cast brass Tibetan stupa or chorten has a lotus-petal base; a bell-shaped body; a cruciform or mandala-shaped entablature (or harmika) with twelve spiky protuberances; and an upper section of thirteen ribs to represent thirteen graduated parasols, topped with a circular lotus petal platform surmounted by a large, lotus-bud finial. The base is open, the enclosure has been lost.
Such stupas are meant to symbolise the Buddha’s enlightened mind. Many are also meant to hold offerings and precious relics. Tibetan stupas of this form are associated with Atisha who came to Tibet from India in the eleventh century and founded the Kadampa sect, and it is with members of this sect – the Kadampas – with whom this style of stupa is most associated. The form, in Tibet, dates back to at least the twelfth century.
According to Heller (2008, p. 156) such stupas frequently were installed on the altars of many Tibetan monasteries from Ladakh to Eastern Tibet. Most were designed to hold consecrated items including small images of a lama or the Buddha.
Determining the age of such stupas is difficult. Generally, they are catalogued in museum collections as 12th or 13th century ‘or later.’ We have adopted this convention here. But as Kerin (2009, p. 10) says, ‘The numerous published examples of this
chorten type are a testament to its popularity but until a systematic study of all similar pieces is conducted, it will remain difficult to determine the craftsmanship and chronology of such pieces.’
to see a related example in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
The example here has a mottled brown patina, and other than for its lost consecration, there are no losses or repairs.
Early Himalayan Art, Ashmolean Museum, 2008.
Artful Beneficence: Selections from the David R. Nalin Himalayan Art Collection, Rubin Museum of Art, 2009.
Lipton, B., & N.D. Ragnubs,
Treasures of Tibetan Art: Collections of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, Oxford University Press, 1996.
Art of the Himalayas: Treasures from Nepal and Tibet, Hudson Hills Press, 1991.
et al, From the Sacred Realm: Treasures of Tibetan Art from the Newark Museum, Prestel, 1999.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 3755