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Importante statuette de shyama tara en bronze doré mongolie, atelier
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About the item

La divinité majestueuse assise en lalitasana, son pied gauche posé sur une fleur de lotus émergeant de la partie inférieure du double trône lotiforme, la main droite en varada mudra, signifiant l'accomplissement de gestes ordinaires et sublimes et la gauche en kartari mudra, le geste du refuge, chacune tenant une tige des lotus fleurissant autour de ses épaules, le visage serein aux lèvres charnues et aux yeux en amande agrémenté de l'urna sous une chevelure retenue en un demi-chignon derrière un ornement pointu abritant une image miniature du Bouddha Amitabha, vêtue d'un dhoti finement incisé de fleurs et ajusté par une ceinture de perles, arborant des bijoux précieux, le visage, le haut du corps et les pieds dorés à froid, la base scellée décorée d'un double vajra entrecroisé dans un cercle doré\nThis exceptional gilt bronze figure of Tara embodies the aesthetic vision of the seventeenth century Mongolian spiritual leader and master artist Zanabazar (1635-1723). Sculpture from his atelier is distinguished by sensuous animation; bronzes are finished in the round with the closest attention to detail and fire-gilded overall, with matt gold paint covering the body of the deity to contrast with the burnished gold robes and jewellery, as seen in this rare example. The modelling of the female form is voluptuous while maintaining the sense of Buddhist compassion for which Tara is regarded; her gestures are expansive and auspicious, with an attentive tilt of the head and an empathetic expression playing on her youthful face.\n\nZanabazar’s sculptures of Tara are legendary; no more than twenty-three gilt bronze examples are attributed to the master’s atelier including two massive figures in the Fine Arts Museum and the Bogdo Khan Palace Museum in Ulan Bator, see N. Tsultem, The Eminent Mongolian Sculptor: G. Zanabazar, Ulan-Bator, 1982, pp. 65-8, pls. 45, 49. The cult of Tara was studied by Zanabazar’s spiritual progenitor, the Tibetan polymath Taranatha (1575-1635) who wrote treatises on early Buddhist textual sources, including a work on the ancient Indian origins of the Tara cult. Zanabazar popularised the worship of the goddess in Mongolia, and in homage to the Indian origins of Buddhism he imbued his bronzes with stylistic elements of early Indian sculpture. Evidence of these early foreign styles can be seen in the pedestal of the Tara where stepped tiers support the lotus flower on which she sits, cf. an eleventh century Tara from Bengal in the Dacca Museum, see Nihar Ranjan Ray, Karl Khandalavala and Sadashiv Gorakshar, Eastern Indian Bronzes, New Delhi, 1986, pl. 234. Compare also the style of the low crown set back against the chignon in a circa twelfth century eastern Indian Shyama Tara in the Potala Palace Collection, Lhasa, see Ulrich von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Hong Kong, 2001, Vol. I, p. 319, pl. 110C. Eighteenth and nineteenth century Mongolian bronzes that are often described as from the school of Zanabazar are relatively common, an Avalokitesvara in the Rietberg Museum for example, see Helmut Uhlig, On the Path to Enlightenment: The Berti Aschmann Foundation of Tibetan Art at the Museum Rietberg, Zürich, 1995, p. 103, cat. no. 55, whereas bronzes from the master’s atelier are extremely rare, outside of Mongolian and Chinese museums, monasteries and palaces. One of the few examples in a western museum collection is a seventeenth century standing Maitreya now in the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, see Gilles Béguin and Dorjiin Dashbaldan, Trésors de Mongolie, Paris, 1993, p. 122, fig. 2, cf. the engraved design on the dais of the standing Maitreya with that of the lower tier of Tara’s pedestal. Meticulous attention to detail and breathtaking sculptural prowess distinguish the Sackler Maitreya and the Tara as masterpieces from Zanabazar’s atelier.\nThe effigy of Amitabha depicted on Tara’s crown associates the goddess with the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, Lord of Compassion. Both deities are considered to be emanations of the Buddha Amitabha. Tara is worshipped by Buddhists as a saviour and liberator from samsara, the earthly realm of birth and rebirth. In Tibetan and Mongolian mythology, Tara, with her face “embodying the delicacy of a million lotus blossoms”, appeared from within a lotus bud on a lake of tears shed for the suffering of sentient beings by the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. This Buddhist tenet of compassion for all sentient beings is no better expressed than in this sublime sculpture of Tara from the atelier of Mongolia’s greatest artist, Zanabazar.
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condition

The figure is in overall very good condition. The base is sealed with the original base plate chased and gilt with a double vajra to the centre, and has not been opened in the past. There are traces of original soot covering parts of the gilding on the lotus base and flowers where the figure has not been handled. There are beautifully incised details on the figure's dhoti and the lotus base. While the base, the dhoti, jewellery, flowers and and crown of the figure are fire-gilt, the figure's skin on the body, arms, legs, feet, face and neck are painted with a thin layer of gesso which acts as the base for the cold-painted gilding. This cold-painted gilding has worn off in some parts on the front of the body and back, her lower legs, the soles of her feet, hands with the whitish gesso and in some areas the fire-gilding underneath is visible. The fire-gilding on the toes of her left foot resting on the lotus flower and the tips of her right hand is worn away revealing the rich dark bronze underneath. There is a ca. 2.5cm wide rectangular filled in casting flaw to the lower part of the lotus base on the back which is contemporaneous when the figure was made. There are traces of blue pigment visible in the recessed areas of the hair. The eyebrows and eyes show traces of black pigment and the lips traces of red pigment. Overall this figure is in its original condition since it was acquired in 1954 from the well-known French dealer Moreau-Gobard. It is beautifully cast, heavy in weight, and elegant in the subtle lines and movement of the body which show the Indian influence. "In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

dimensions

30,7 cm; 12 in.

provenance

Acquired from Jean-Claude Moreau-Gobard, Paris, in 1954. Thence in the family by descent.

consignmentDesignation

Ancienne Collection Particulière Française


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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