5424

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Ritually-Worn Tibetan Cast Bronze Buddha

Tibet
circa 16th century

height: 10.6cm, width: 7.8cm

Available - Enquire

Provenance

acquired by the previous owner in London in March 1991.

This cast bronze Buddha image, with traces of gilding, is from Tibet and dates to the 16th century.

It is very unusual because its face has been rubbed and caressed to the point where its features have been worn completely smooth. Such wear is not typical of Tibetan prayer usage or indeed even of Buddhist ritual wear. What it is typical of, however, is Hindu ritual wear. So it seems highly likely that this Tibetan image of the Buddha has been traded or travelled to India, where it was incorporated into a household altar in a Hindu home and has been incorporated into the household’s pantheon of Hindu deities and subsequently venerated. The wear suggests it has been lustrated, cleaned and had offerings such as milk, honey or ghee poured over it just as the household’s other more conventional Hindu gods would have been treated.

Such an incorporation of an outside deity is unusual but does not particularly contravene Hindu strictures – many would simply see the Buddha, or perhaps Jesus, or any other deity as different manifestations of the one god.

The image itself show the Buddha seated in padmasana on a double-lotus throne, with hands in the bhumispara mudra (‘calling the earth to witness’) position.

The base is open and a rolled Tibetan prayer scroll has been inserted into the cavity but this is likely to be a recent addition.

References

Pal. P., The Art of Tibet, The Asia Society, 1969.

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