A SILVER INLAID BRASS ALLOY FIGURE OF BUDDHA KASHMIR, 7TH/8TH CENTURY

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Lot 104
A SILVER INLAID BRASS ALLOY FIGURE OF BUDDHA
KASHMIR, 7TH/8TH CENTURY

Sold for HK$ 1,250,000 (US$ 159,240) inc. premium
A SILVER INLAID BRASS ALLOY FIGURE OF BUDDHA
KASHMIR, 7TH/8TH CENTURY
With an ancient repair to the ushnisha.
Himalayan Art Resources item no.2143
15 cm (5 7/8 in.) high

Footnotes

  • The Buddha wears a finely pleated robe that leaves his right-shoulder bare, and holds the robe's end in his raised left hand. The right hand is shown with the palm facing outward in the gesture of wish-granting. He sits on a throne protected by crouching lions flanking its tasseled cover. Two donor figures kneel in obeisance and offer a floral garland.

    Traces of cold-gold paste on the face and blue pigment in the hair indicate that, although clearly from Kashmir, the sculpture was once worshipped in Tibet. In fact, it was acquired in Gyantse by William Pyt Bennett who served with RGA 7th Mountain Battery during the Younghusband Expedition to Tibet in 1903/4.

    Fueled by misplaced fears of an alliance between Tibet and Russia that might threaten the security of Britain's control on India and Nepal, the Younghusband Expedition marched from Sikkim to Lhasa in order to intimidate the Tibetan government into signing the Lhasa Convention, which effectively made Tibet a British protectorate for two years. Bennett documented his experience in a diary sold by Bonhams, London, 27 March 2012, lot 219. He described acquiring this Buddha in a letter from Gyantse, dated 16 April 1904:

    "...Yesterday a certain amount of 'loot' from the Fort [Gyantse] was distributed – my share was three small brass idols which I hope to bring back together with a few more odds and ends I picked up. There were nice gilded images finely inlaid worked – for the messes of the 3rd regiments up here. I wish we could get hold of something nice for the Battery Mess. A number of things have been put aside for the Indian Govt. and British Museum. We discovered two chests of painted scrolls – the newer ones were quite nice and one large chest full of necromancer's helmets, wheel of fortune, dolls, guard garments. I do not know what is going to be done with those."

    The necromancer's apron he mentioned is likely that which was acquired by the Royal Scottish Museum from William John Ottley (acc.#1905.352). Meanwhile, Bennett's letter provides the first record of a Buddha of Kashmiri origin being preserved in Tibetan monasteries. Several others that have remained are published by von Schroeder, many closely related to the Bennett Buddha. See, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Vol.1, Hong Kong, 2001, pp.88-95, nos.12-5.

    The string tag around the base carries a wax seal identical to those preserved on figures gifted by Eileen Younghusband, daughter of the expedition's leader, to the Liverpool Museum – for example, a figure of White Manjushri (acc.#53.97.9).

    Provenance
    Lieut. William Pyt Bennett, Gyantse, acquired in 1904
    Thence by descent


    銅錯銀佛像
    喀什米爾,七/八世紀
    頂髻處經舊修。
    喜馬拉雅藝術資源網2143號
    高15釐米(5 7/8英寸)

    500,000-700,000 港元

    佛祖身穿細褶長袍,右肩裸露,左手執袍腳,右手掌心向外施予願印。他坐於寶座之上,受蓋布流蘇兩旁之臥虎保護,兩位施主敬跪獻花。

    臉上之泥金與髮上之藍靛表明,此佛像雖明顯來自喀什米爾,但曾經在西藏受供奉。實際上此像由服役於英國皇家要塞炮兵隊第七山炮連的William Pyt Bennett於1903至1904年榮赫鵬(Younghusband)遠征西藏期間在江孜請得。

    由於擔心西藏和俄羅斯結盟,威脅到英國對於印度和尼泊爾的控制,榮赫鵬遠征軍從錫金出兵至拉薩,以脅迫西藏政府簽訂拉薩公約,使西藏成為英國的保護國,為期兩年。Bennett在日記裡記錄了他的見聞;該日記於2012年3月27日在倫敦邦瀚斯售出(219號拍品)。他在1904年4月16日的一封信中,寫到他在江孜取得此佛像:

    "......昨天,一部份從[江孜]堡裡得來的'戰利品'分發給大家,我得到了三個小銅像,希望能跟其他幾件小玩意一併帶回去。當中有些鑲工精緻的鎏金像現放在第三團食堂,我希望能找到些好東西帶給炮兵連食堂。有些物品已收起,準備送予印度政府與大英博物館。我們還發現兩箱畫卷,其中較新的非常漂亮,以及一大箱亡靈巫師的帽盔、法輪、神偶及防護服,我不知這些東西將怎樣處理。"

    他提及的巫師法裙或許是皇家蘇格蘭博物館從William John Ottley得到的那件藏品(館藏號1905.352)。同時,Bennett的信件亦是喀什米爾造像保存在西藏寺院之內的第一個記錄。其他幾尊存世造像不少與Bennett的佛像相近,出版於馮·施羅德, 西藏佛教造像,卷一,香港,2001年,頁88-95,12-5號。

    圍繞底座的繩牌帶有蠟封,遠征軍領袖女兒Eileen Younghusband贈予利物浦博物館的多個造像如白文殊像(館藏號53.97.9),亦有一模一樣的蠟封。


    來源
    William Pyt Bennett中尉,江孜,得於1904年
    後由家族傳承


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A SILVER INLAID BRASS ALLOY FIGURE OF BUDDHA KASHMIR, 7TH/8TH CENTURY
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