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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Recent Acquisitions: Sotheby's Stuart Cary Welch Collection- May 31st, 2011


Each Offered at: 
-5% Markup for 30 Days.
-10% Markup from 31 to 90 Days.
-25% Markup after 90 Days
(See Official Invoice Below)

 A PORTRAIT OF TASHIPEL SURROUNDED BY DEITIES AND LINEAGE, TIBET, 13TH CENTURY

DESCRIPTION


Distemper on cloth; the hierarch wearing monk's robes beneath a heavy cloak, his face lightly bearded with a thin moustache, with hands held in dharmachakra mudra and seated in vajraparyankasana on a multicoloured lotus seat with a green scrollwork back cushion, a torana behind with caparisoned elephants supporting vyala, each with riders looking inwards over their shoulders, projecting beams above with kinnara at either side and Garuda at the apex, festoons of gems and floral sprays against blue space behind, all set on a throne draped with a floral patterned cloth and with crouching lions and elephants between supporting pillars, with stupas, meditation huts and temple buildings beneath, all within a stylised multicoloured mountain setting, Tashipel's lineage depicted above, guardians and deities in the side registers, and protector and wealth bestowing deities below.
CATALOGUE NOTE
Taklung Thangpa Chenpo (1142-1210), known also as Tashipel, founded Taklung monastery in 1180 some forty miles north of the Tibetan capital Lhasa. His Kagyu lineage is portrayed in the upper register, with the dark-skinned Indian mahasiddhas Tilopa (fl. late 10th to early 11th century) and Naropa (956-1040) to the left with their spiritual progenitor, blue Vajradhara. Tashipel's teacher Phakmo Drupa (1110-1170) sits directly above the master in the middle of the register, with Marpa (1012-1096) and his white-robed disciple Milarepa (1040-1123) to the right and Milarepa's disciple Gampopa (1079-1153), the founder of the Kagyu order, completing the lineage. Although Tibetan thanka paintings are rarely dated there is inscriptional evidence that this portrait was done certainly prior to 1296 and most probably before 1273. An original dedication in the centre of the back of the painting, drawn within the outlines of a stupa corresponding to the shape of Tashipel's seated form, and three-character mantras behind each deity and historical personage are both traditional Tibetan consecration formulae. A further inscription done in a different hand and overlapping some of the original script, states, "consecrated by Önpo Lama Rimpoche of Taklung". Önpo Lama was briefly the fourth abbot of Taklung monastery but for complex political reasons left the monastery in 1273 after a year at its head to form a sub order of the Taklung Kagyupa at Riwoche in eastern Tibet. Önpo died in 1296. The inscription by Önpo must therefore have been added to the painting between 1273 when he was the abbot and could claim the title of Önpo Lama Rimpoche of Taklung, and his death in 1296. As the painting was already consecrated with an original dedication to Tashipel the work probably predates this twenty-three year period when Önpo could have written his inscription. A date between 1210 and 1273 is thus most likely: portraits of hierarchs are often made on anniversaries after their death. Steven Kossak notes that during his year of leadership Önpo held a ceremony to consecrate relics of the monastery, see Kossak 2010, p.173. Although Kossak finds no paintings listed among the objects blessed it is conceivable that the inscription was added at this or a further ceremony in 1273. Another 13th century painting from Taklung monastery, a double portrait depicting Tashipel's nephew and successor Kuyelwa (1191-1236) and Kuyelwa's nephew and successor Sangye Yarjon (1203-1272), has an identical additional inscription by Önpo Lama, see Casey Singer and Denwood 1997, p.56, figs.38-9
The portrait is painted in a rich and varied palette. Bold textile designs are picked out in burnished gold. The formal structure of the picture is defined by the exquisite multicoloured and subtly shaded stylised rockwork depicting the sacred mountain abodes of the gods. Two dark-skinned Indian ascetics appear from behind the mountain staves around the arch of Tashipel's shrine. The four Lokapalas stand guard at the top and bottom of the side registers, Sakyamuni Buddhe seated with four monks, Chakrasamvara and another image of Tashipel depicted on the left, and on the right Shadakshari, Vajravarahi and a further portrait of Tashipel wearing a particular yellow cap seen in another Taklung portrait of the master, see ibid, p.63, fig.44. It is noteworthy that Tashipel and his lineage are depicted in the same sacred mountain settings as the image of Buddha and other deities in the top and side registers: and the principal central image of Tashipel is seated on an elaborate empowered throne of a type normally reserved for the gods. It may thus be assumed that Tashipel, like other masters portrayed in early Tibetan paintings, was revered at the level of the Buddha whose teachings he expounded, see Casey Singer and Kossak 1998, pp.92-3. A monastery setting is depicted below Tashipel's throne. At the left two chortens stand within a slate-roofed structure in front of a stylised mountain. Two cloaked monks sit at either side of a thatched hut with three windows showing the faces of lamas, seemingly that of Tashipel in the centre with his light beard and moustache. To the right a monk gazes out of the window of a blue tower with doors below. Another monk appears at the window of a white thatched hut in front of a monastery complex, and a red temple building with blue tiled roof completes the enigmatic narrative scene. The thatched huts are perhaps meditation retreats. The Taklung histories record that Tashipel was instructed by Phakmo Drupa to build himself such a hut from willow, and to complete it in a single day, ibid, p.93.
Horizontal sections of the multicoloured mountain staves frame the lower register filled with animated Dharmapala, Yidam and wealth bestowing deities, with Hyagriva at the left, the blue Chaturbhuja Mahakala, Varahi, the white robed Aparajita (see Watt, no. 89957), Kurukulla, Samvara, Vajravarahi and Ushnishavijaya. A border of the mesmerising stylised rockwork completes this exquisite miniature portrait of the Taklung master Tashipel.


THE CASTOR OIL TREE (RICINUS COMMUNIS): A BOTANICAL STUDY FROM THE COLLECTION OF MAJOR JAMES NATHANIAL RIND, COMPANY SCHOOL, CALCUTTA, CIRCA 1800

CATALOGUE NOTE
This large study of a castor oil tree (Ricinus Communis) is from the collection of Major James Nathaniel Rind (d.1814), who commissioned a large number of botanical and zoological studies during his time in India. Rind was commissioned into the Bengal Marines in 1778 and later transferred to the 18th native Infantry. Between 1785 and 1789 he was based at Calcutta and was part of a team of officers involved in a survey of India. His son, also called James Nathaniel, was a captain in the 37th Native Infantry and was killed aged 32 at Gandamak on the retreat from Kabul in 1842.

A large group of natural history studies from the Rind Collection was sold in these rooms 13 July 1971, lots 1-48 (this study probably lot 43). Two others have been sold in these rooms 22 October 1993, lot 227, and 8 May 1997, lot 196. A study of a lily from the same series is in the Brooklyn Museum of Art (see Poster 1994, no.246, pp.296-297). Lots 117 and 118 in this sale are also from the Rind Collection. The Castor Oil plant (Ricinus Communis) is a tropical and sub-tropical species native to the India, the Near East and Africa. Oil from the seeds is used in a wide variety of medicinal and industrial contexts.

Invoice:


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