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A RARE GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF CHANGKYA ROLPAI DORJE (1717-1786)
A RARE GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF CHANGKYA ROLPAI DORJE (1717-1786)
A RARE GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF CHANGKYA ROLPAI DORJE (1717-1786)
A RARE GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF CHANGKYA ROLPAI DORJE (1717-1786)
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PROPERTY FROM THE INDIA HOUSE CLUB COLLECTION, NEW YORK
A RARE GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF CHANGKYA ROLPAI DORJE (1717-1786)

TIBETO-CHINESE, 18TH CENTURY

Details
A RARE GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF CHANGKYA ROLPAI DORJE (1717-1786)
TIBETO-CHINESE, 18TH CENTURY
6 ¼ in. (15.9 cm.) high
Provenance
Willard D. Straight (1880-1918) Collection, acquired prior to 1914.
Literature
Himalayan Art Resources, item no. 24662.

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Tristan Bruck
Tristan Bruck Specialist, Head of Sale

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Lot Essay

The present bronze depicts Changkya Rolpai Dorje, the Third Changkya of the Changkya Khutukhtu lineage, and the preeminent lama of the Qing imperial court during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor in the eighteenth century. Born to a nomadic family in the Gansu region, Rolpai Dorje was recognized at an early age as the reincarnation of the First Changkya, and was invested at Gönlung Monastery in Amdo. After the monastery was destroyed by the Manchu army in retaliation for a rebellion, the young Rolpai Dorje was brought to the Qing court in Beijing at the insistence of the Yongzheng Emperor, where he was educated alongside the future Qianlong Emperor. In his travels to Tibet, Rolpai Dorje learned from the Fifth Panchen Lama and the Seventh Dalai Lama, and later became the personal Buddhist teacher of the Qianlong Emperor. His position as an important lama based in Beijing (his residence was in the Yonghe Monastery, formerly the Yonghegong Palace) meant he acted as an intermediary between the Qing court and Tibetan and Mongolian religious institutions. He was also an important scholar, translator and iconometrist, and helped to develop and codify the representation of Buddhist figures in imperial art.
Representations of Changkya Rolpai Dorje can be easily identified by his distinctive facial features and almost square facial shape. Additionally, the hat with folded lappets and the sword and book on lotuses at his shoulders (attributes of the bodhisattva Manjushri, of whom Rolpai Dorje was considered to be an emanation) are also used to identify him. His most distinctive feature, a congenital bump on his proper right cheek, is not found on the present work, although not all bronzes display this feature. Compare the present work with a similar representation in the collection of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, illustrated by B. Lipton in Treasures of Tibetan Art: The Collections of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, New York, 1992, p. 85, no. 31; both figures are shown with their hands held in the same mudras, each with the characteristic folded hat and the attributes of Manjushri, the sword and book, on lotus blossoms at the shoulders (although the lotus supporting the sword is missing from the Jacques Marchais example). The Jacques Marchais example does, however, bear the congenital mark on the proper right cheek, which as mentioned, is missing from the present example.

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