Indian Bronze Maitreya figure headlines New York sale

Christie's March 15 sale of the Lahiri collection in New York was led by a 12th century bronze and copper inlaid figure of Maitreya from northern India.

The piece was produced during the Pala dynasty, which ruled over a vast swathe of the region from the 8th to the 12th centuries.

Maitreya Christies Buddha
Maitreya is a millenarian figure in Buddhist thought

The Pala Empire was one of the last outposts of Buddhism in the region as Hinduism became more prevalent across India.

Maitreya is a millenarian figure in Buddhist teaching. His arrival on Earth is believed to herald the transformation of society and the dawn of total enlightenment.

The auction house comments: "This sublime figure of Maitreya, the Future Buddha, is emblematic of the artistic mastery of Pala period bronze work…

"The abundance of shimmering silver and copper inlay suggest this sculpture was an object of particularly special veneration."

The lot sold for $341,000.

A silver and copper inlaid figure of Akshobhya achieved an identical figure.

It was produced in Western Tibet in the 13th century, probably by a Tibetan artisan but displaying a clear Pala influence.

Many Pala artists fled north to escape religious persecution following the fall of the empire, leading to the absorption of the Pala aesthetic into Tibetan art.

Avijit and Bratati Lahiri have been building their hugely impressive collection since the 1970s. It grossed $2.3m.

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