Lot 25. A gilt copper repoussé figure of a bodhisattva, Nepal, circa 16th century. Estimate US$ 300,000 - 500,000 (€270,000 - 460,000). Photo: Bonhams.
Reclining into 'royal ease' while displaying the gesture of teaching with an attentive gaze. 17 in. (43.2 cm) high
This masterpiece of Nepalese repoussé sculpture couches the bodhisattva in regalia, bedecked with inset semi-precious stones of diverse colors. His figure is composed with a naturalistic sense of his weight resting on his left arm with a slight bend. The nuanced spread of his plump toes encapsulate the essence of hisrajalilasana posture. The left are completely relaxed, bent upwards from resting against the heel of his right foot. While, the right big toe is struck erect; the bodhisattva enjoys the splendid bliss of his enlightened consciousness whilst also ready to rise to alleviate the suffering of another at a moment's notice.
His posture is commonly associated with figures of Indra. However, he does not bear the tall single-section crescent crown or the horizontal third-eye prescribed for the god. On the contrary, his turquoise inset urna and five-section Vajrasattva-type crown, and a vajra finial behind it, are indicative of Buddhist sculpture, and this bodhisattva was originally paired with a figure of Syamatara when sold by Sotheby's, New York, 1 December 1993, lot 25.
With few inscribed examples, dating Nepalese sculpture is always a challenge. However, a dancing girl in the Alsdorf Collection has the same jeweled belt and broad pleated scarf ends. She is dated to the 15th century by Alsop in 'Repoussé in Nepal', in Orientations, Vol. 17, No. 7, 1986, p. 22. Also compare the scale and quality to a Prajnaparamita, dated to the 15th century, in the Walzer Collection (Huntington, Circle of Bliss, Columbus, 2003, p. 126 , no. 23).
Meanwhile, the garment's incised floral patterns and the profusion of stone inlay are generally considered characteristics of the 16th and 17th centuries. Compare with two Taras from the Avery Brundage Collection in von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, p. 381, nos. 102C and G. Also compare the quality and detail of a Buddha Dipankara group, dated 1612, in a private collection (ibid, p. 383, pl. 103B).
Referenced: HAR - himalayanart.org/items/61430
Provenance: Private Cleveland Collection by 1981
Sotheby's, New York, 1 December 1993, lot 24
Christie's, New York, 19 September 2002, lot 182
Christie's, New York, 16 September 2008, lot 514
Bonhams. INDIAN, HIMALAYAN & SOUTHEAST ASIAN ART, 16:00 EDT - NEW YORK