Some Art Objects From Tibet

By: G. B. G.

Originally Published in 1914

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In the last number of the JOURNAL mention was made of the purchase of a number of rare objects from monasteries in Tibet. These were included in the special exhibition arranged during the winter and have therefore been on view for some months. There are thirteen objects, all of which sustain a high artistic standard representative of the best workmanship of Tibet and Nepal. Among them are examples of the fine work formerly executed by the lamas in Tibetan monasteries.

Gilded brass statuette depicting Tsongkhapa with hands in preaching mudra and lotus stalks at his shoulders, wearing a hat
Fig. 4.—Rare Tibetan image of gilt bronze representing St .Padma, the founder of Lamaism in Tibet.
Museum Object Number: A1437A
Image Number: 4506

The rarest and best article is the statue of St. Padma Samb-hava, which measures 9 inches in height. This statue is of bronze, finely wrought and heavily gilt. The saint was the founder of Lamaism in Tibet. He lived during the eighth or ninth century A. D. and was the first to preach the doctrine of ” the enlightened one.” He is represented as seated on a lotus thalamus with crossed bare feet and the ancient ecclesiastical robes. On his head is the pointed cap of a deified lama. On either shoulder appears lotus blooms surmounted by the vajra emblem or thunderbolt.

Another notable piece is the large Buddhistic figure in gilt bronze, 15 inches high, representing Dorji Tomba, a divinity of the Mahayana school. He is seated in the traditional pose on a lotus base which is raised upon an oblong openwork pedestal. The figure, which is clad in rich attire, bears the urna mark on the forehead. In each hand the divinity holds the Buddhist emblem of the vajra or thunderbolt.

Another divinity of the Mahayana school, Goro Peema, is represented by a smaller image, 9 inches high. This, like the last piece described, has the usual funagoku or highly embellished nimbus rising at the back. In his right hand the divinity holds the thunderbolt and in the left, which rests on the knee, he holds the skull cup. These images and other bronze figures in the collection were first cast and afterwards worked by hand.

Of a different character, but of similar artistic interest, is a creed book with heavy wooden covers, one of which is elaborately carved and gilded. The book is made of sheets of heavy blue handmade paper, covered on each side by closely written lines of text. The contents of this text is the Jadumba or fundamental dogma of the Buddhist creed. It is beautifully engrossed by hand in the old Tibetan characters.

On the carved cover of this book, which is finished in polychrome, are three sunken niches each holding a figure of Buddha enthroned, carved in bold relief. These three figures are collectively known as “the three precious ones” and comprise the Amitaba trinity. The accessories surrounding these figures include dragons and a frieze with a bird-headed scroll. The whole is carved in teakwood and gilded. Another similar cover in the cóllection presents the same three figures. In this case the accessories include birds, animals and winged guardians with a background of scrolls.

G. B. G.

Gilded bronze statuette of Padmasambhava, wearing a hat or crown, on a double lotus base with a halo
Fig. 5.—Tibetan gilt bronze image representing Goro Peema.
Museum Object Number: A1439
Image Number: 10731
Gilt bronze statuette of Najradhara, seated holding two thunderbolts in crossed hands
Fig. 6.—Tibetan gilt image representing Dorij Tomba.
Museum Object Number: A1436
Image Number: 2177

Cite This Article

G., G. B.. "Some Art Objects From Tibet." The Museum Journal V, no. 1 (March, 1914): 10-14. Accessed May 26, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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