Extraordinary sculptures, bronzes and paintings from China, India, Mongolia, Nepal and Tibet are amongst the works of art on offer at Rossi & Rossi’s Stand B2 at Fine Art Asia in Hong Kong, the continent’s leading annual fine art and antiques fair. Held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, the event runs from 3 to 7 October 2019.
Highlights of the presentation include an exquisite sixteenth-century bronze sculpture of the famous teacher of Tibetan Buddhism Tsongkhapa(1357–1419). Seated in full lotus position with his legs interlocked, he is clad in a cape and voluminous patchwork robe, decorated with incised lines to indicate the panels of the patchwork, the fold of which spread across his legs. The hems of his robe and cape are decorated with delicately incised floral motifs. His hands are held in front of his chest is dharmacakramudra, a teaching gesture. His face bears idiosyncratic features, including prominent ears and a particularly muscular neck. The gentle countenance is imparted by slight features on his round face: his closed eyes covered by heavy eyelids, his thin and rounded eyebrows and a gentle touch of a smile. Tsongkhapa was the founder of the Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. He brought many small groups under his wing and he de-emphasised the political authority of charismatic individuals, arguing instead for religious institutions based on textual authorities. This sculpture is a fine example of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of venerating their teachers through portraiture.
Also on offer is a finely cast eleventh-century bronze sculpture of the Chakrasamvara. This elaborate sculpture depicts Chakrasamvara embracing his consort Vajravarahi in yab yum, symbolising the union of Wisdom and Compassion in tantric Buddhist belief. Chakrasamvara’s stands in the dynamic posture of alidhasana on the crushed figures of the Hindu deities Kalaratri and Bhairava, symbolising the defeat of the enemies of Buddhist doctrine. His twelve arms hold various ritual implements and while there has been damage to some of his hands and implements, identifiable attributes include a ghanta(bell), vajra(thunderbolt-sceptre), parashu(axe) and khatvanga(ritual staff), while holding a ribbon aloft above his heads. Vajravarahi stands with her right leg wrapped around his waist while there is damage to her arms, she traditionally would have held a kapala(skull-cup) and a kartrika(chopper). A simple aureole in the shape of a flame surrounds the two figures. The sculpture shows clear Kashmiri influences and could have originated from the northeastern Indian region of Himachal Pradesh, or from Western Tibet, a region which had close commercial and artistic ties with Kashmir in the tenth to the thirteenth century.
Rossi & Rossi is also presenting a fine collection of paintings from China and Tibet, amongst which is an eighteenth-century depiction of Sthavira Rahula, the actual son of Buddha Shakyamuni. This painting would have belonged to a twenty-three painting set that featured the Sixteen Great Elders, of which Rahula is the tenth. Depicted holding a jeweled crown in both hands, the painting is typical of Tibetan depictions of the Elder. At the top left side of the painting is an unidentified Buddha figure likely from the group of Eight Medicine Buddhas or the Thirty-Five Confession Buddhas. On the right side of the composition is the female deity of long life Ushnishavijaya with three faces and eight hands.
Other highlights include a rare example of a Pair of Door Bossesfrom the sixteenth- to seventeenth-century Tibet. Door bosses such as these were attached to wooden temple or monastery doors. The faces depict wrathful guardians with fangs, fiery whiskers and eyebrows, and upturned noses. Alternating heads and skulls are symmetrically arranged around the rims which simulate flames. Gold, silver and copper are used to fine effect: the faces are rendered in silver, the lips overlaid with red copper, while the tongues, noses, brows, and the rims of the eyes and ears are all overlaid in gold. The style is traditionally associated with Derge in the Kham region of eastern Tibet.
Also on view is a Gandharan sculpture from the second- to the third-century depicting a Seated Atlas. He is stout and muscular, wearing a long robe with moulded folds draped over both shoulders and falling over his knees. His left leg is bent vertically, and his hands are held to his knees. His face, turned slightly to his left, is framed by wavy hair and a bushy, full beard. Fine contours delineate the characteristically-powerful musculature of his chest, arms, and shoulders. His stout, muscular form demonstrates the figure’s function as a decorative element that would have been placed beneath or between architectural elements, giving the illusion of support but without the structural function. Surviving stupas at Taxila and Hadda show registers with atlantes, in groups or depicted individually, still extant. This figure is a fine example of atlantes from Gandhara.