• Indian and Southeast Asian Art auction at Christies

    Sale 2300

    Indian and Southeast Asian Art

    23 March 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 233

    A Silver and Parcel-Gilt Bronze Figure of Ushnishavijaya


    Price Realised  


    A Silver and Parcel-Gilt Bronze Figure of Ushnishavijaya
    Tibet, 16th/17th century
    Seated in dhyanasana on a double-lotus base with a beaded rim, the multiple hands splayed out around her in various mudras, clad in a long flowing dhoti, the three faces with aquiline noses and downcast eyes, their foreheads centered by the third eye, the wavy locks of hair pulled into a high chignon
    11 in. (27.9 cm.) high

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    Ushnishavijaya ("Victorious Crown Ornament") is one of the three long-life deities, the other two being Amitayus and White Tara. She is often invoked in old age ceremonies such as the Bhimaratha ritual practiced by the Newari, in which people over the age of seventy-seven are prepared for afterlife in the Western Paradise.

    In 1938, a 21-year old Erich Graef embarked on a business trip to Batavia, the capital city of Indonesia (now known as Jakarta). As the Second World War broke out, Graef was taken prisoner by the Dutch colonialists in Indonesia and sent to the Dehradun Central Interment Camp in India. There he joined now-famous inmates Heinrich Harrer and Peter Aufschnaiter, the Austrian mountaineers whose story was popularized through Harrer's book and later the 1997 film, Seven Years in Tibet. Graef, Harrer and Aufschnaiter made several unsuccessful attempts to escape together from Dehradun. In 1944, Harrer and Aufschnaiter managed to escape successfully to Tibet, while Graef remained at Dehradun until 1947. After a brief stay in Germany, Graef returned to Pakistan and India, where he established Bayer India, and remained until 1968.

    Graef had become fascinated with Tibetan art in his discussions with Harrer.


    Collection of Erich Graef, 1968

    Pre-Lot Text