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    Tibetan Gilded Plaque, possibly of Padmasambhava

    17th-18th century

    length: 34cm, width: 26.6cm, weight: 791g



    private collection, UK

    – scroll down to see further images –

    This good-sized, arch-shaped plaque of hammered, repoussed and chased copper that has been gilded (gold plated) and shows in high relief a guardian figure, dressed in flowing robes and riding a Himalayan snow lion – one of the four mythical animals comprising the so-called ‘Four Dignities’.

    The deity holds aloft a vajra in his right hand and in the left he cradles a kalasha or longevity vase which appears to be resting in a skull cup. He is shown surrounded by clouds.

    The base of the plaque is decorated, again in particularly high relief, with a band of lotus petals.

    Possibly, the plaque shows Padmasambhava, the legendary figure who helped Buddhism attain victory in Tibet in the 8th century. Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche) often is shown with a vase of longevity resting in a skull cup and a vajra but often is also shown with a trident.

    The plaque would have adorned the wall of a temple or monastery or similar – probably near or on an entrance to fulfil its protective function. Four holes drilled to the edge of the plaque would have allowed it to be affixed.

    The plaque is in fine condition. It has wear to the gilding over the surfaces that are in higher relief, as should be expected.


    Beer, R., The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs, Serindia, 2004.

    Buddesberg, M., & B.J. Richtsfeld (eds.), From the Land of the Snow Lion: Tibetan Treasures from the 15th to 20th Century, Himer/Museum Funf Kontinente, 2016.

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