A Bronze Figure of Tathagata Ratnasambhava
A Bronze Figure of Tathagata Ratnasambhava


A Bronze Figure of Tathagata Ratnasambhava
Swat valley, 10th century
6 ½ in. (16.5 cm.) high
Tokyo Collection, Japan, by 1981.
Tokyo Art Market.
Acquired by the current owner from the above in December 2015.
U. von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, p.97, fig.12D
Kuboso Memorial Museum of Arts, “Gilt bronze Buddha from Classic Chinese and Central & Southeast Asia,” Izumi, 1988, no.84, p.95
Himalayan Art Resource (himalayanart.org), item no. 24310
“Gilt Bronze Buddha from Classic Chinese and Central & Southeast Asia,” Kuboso Memorial Museum of Arts, Izumi, 1988
Sale room notice
Please note this lot is being sold without the wooden base in the illustration.

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Lot Essay

In Vajrayana Buddhism, the Five Dhyani Buddhas represent the five aspects of enlightenment: Vairocana (central) representing the dharma realm; Amoghasiddhi (north) representing perfect practice; Amitabha (west) representing observation; Akshobhya (east) representing reflection; and Ratnasambhava (south) representing equanimity. The present figure can be identified as Ratnasambhava by the pair of lions in his throne, which are his mounts, by his jeweled tiara and by his gesture of giving (varadamudra).

Located along the upper stream of the Indus River in the heartland of the Gandhara region, Swat Valley was on the crossroads between India and Central Asia, and received a constant flow of Buddhist pilgrims. The earlier Gandhara style is still echoed in the art of Swat Valley, as visible in the present example. The parallel pleats of the tathagata’s robes and the composition of his lion throne can be traced back to Buddhist figures from Gandhara. The V-shaped pleats on his chest are associated with Kashmiri prototypes, as is the use of the bronze with a high silver or tin content. His face reflects a Gupta idiom, with its rounded shape, small mouth and incised eyebrows. This figure perfectly embodies the various influences combined by Swat artists to such pleasing effect.

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