Lot Content

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A SILVER- AND COPPER-INLAID BRONZE FIGURE OF VIRUPA
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE HONOLULU COLLECTION
A SILVER- AND COPPER-INLAID BRONZE FIGURE OF VIRUPA

TIBET, 14TH CENTURY

Details
A SILVER- AND COPPER-INLAID BRONZE FIGURE OF VIRUPA
TIBET, 14TH CENTURY
4 ¾ in. (12.1 cm.) high
Provenance
The Pan-Asian Collection (Christian Humann), by repute
Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, by 1997
Christie’s New York, 22 March 2000, lot 58
Literature
C. Reedy, Himalayan Bronzes, University of Delaware Press, 1997, pp. 202 and 215f, fig. C171

Lot Essay

This masterwork of Tibetan craftsmanship depicts the accomplished Indian master or mahasiddha, Virupa, who is credited with performing many extraordinary deeds, such as parting the waters of the Ganges. In reaction to being refused service at a tavern, he simply prevented the sun from setting in demand of more alcohol at which point the local king, highly concerned, settled his bill in order to free the sun. Virupa is depicted here with his right arm raised in the threatening gesture of tarjanimudra, ordering the sun not to move.
The inscription, as translated by Chandra Reedy, alludes to this story:

"Salutations to the one with the dark red body who makes dangerous persons shake, who holds the skull of immortality in the left hand, who sits in the manner of the king of all, who holds up the sun. Auspiciousness."

The figure is carefully articulated in the round with finely detailed hair at the back. Compare the present with a closely related figure of Virupa, with his right hand lowered instead of holding the skull cup, provided as figure a, as well as two examples in the Berti Aschmann Collection, illustrated by H. Uhlig in On the Path to Enlightenment, Zurich, 1995, cat. nos. 122 and 123.

Himalayan Art Resources (himalayanart.org), item no. 20403.

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