Dazzling Nepalese and Tibetan figures lead Christie's into their Asian art week

Tomorrow (September 14), Christie's Asian art week kicks off in earnest with an Indian and Southeast Asian Art sale, offering over 200 selected works including exceptional bronzes, sculpture, and paintings from Gandhara, the Himalayas, India and Indonesia.

The auction offers works that span a wide time and geographical range and also range from the bejeweled to remarkably simple, and from monumental to miniature.  An important Gandharan Silver Collection is amongst many which will highlight the sale.

The three most covetable pieces on offer, however, are sculptures from the regions of Nepal and Tibet, all of which represent opportunities for investment.

Firstly, there is a large and important gilt copper figure of Vajrasattva.

Vajrasattva sculpture
Vajrasattva sculpture

Superbly modeled and finely cast, seated in dhyanasana holding a vajra and ghanta in his hands, wearing a dhoti with incised pattern and ornate jewelry with inlaid hardstones, the tranquil face with raised urna surmounted by an elaborate foliate tiara and high chignon

In relation to this figure, and Vajrasattva in general, P Pal notes in Art of the Himalayas that "In both Nepal and Tibet he is regarded as the sixth transcendental Buddha. Although he sits in the posture of a Buddha, he is sumptuously adorned like a bodhisattva."

The piece is estimated at $500,000-700,000. Second is a rare and important gilt bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara made in Nepal, in the 9th/10th century. The sculpture is superbly detailed with a floral garland and inset garnets, elaborate coiffure with incised strands of hair, and a reddish underlying gilding and brighter secondary fire gilding characteristic for early bronzes.

Standing at 13.5in high, the piece is estimated at $400,000-$600,000.

The top lot, however, is expected to be an important gilt bronze figure of Amitayus. The 16.75 in high sculpture is modeled and richly gilt, seated in dhyanasana with hands folded in lap, wearing a dhoti incised with floral motif and ornate belt, adorned with anklets, armbands, necklaces and earrings inlaid with hardstones.

The elegant face bears a meditative expression, with heavy-lidded elongated eyes and raised urna, and hair pulled back into a high chignon and secured by a foliate tiara, covered by a helmet and topped by a vajra.

Made in 14th century Tibet, it is listed at $600,000-$800,000. Christie's auction takes place in New York, and online bidding is available.


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