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Bonhams’ Asia Week sales will star this incredible Tibetan sculpture


Bonhams will feature a fascinating selection of art and antiques in its Asia Week sales in New York from March 19 to 21.
Topping the Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art sale on March 19 will be a 15th century Tibetan sculpture of Avalokiteshvara, the thousand-armed bodhisattva. The piece is valued at up to $1.5m.

However, that estimate could be pushed higher as this is one of few Tibetan statues from this era to be attributed to a known artisan – in this case a man named Sonam Gyaltsen.

It bears an inscription that reads: "This source of the attainments of Lord Avalokiteshvara, requested by the bodhisattva Zhonnu Gyalchog, [fulfilled] by the ruling brothers Norzang and Palzang, with pure motivation to build a place of worship for noble beings, [then, this sculpture was made] by the hands of Sonam Gyaltsen: May the accumulation of merit lead all beings to quickly attain the omniscient stage."

The “place of worship” is the Jamchen Chode monastery, which is still in existence today although the name was changed to Jampa Ling in the late 1600s.

A few other examples of Gyaltsen’s work are known in institutions and private collections and are considered among the finest sculptures in the canon. This piece is no exception.

A large grey schist head of Buddha, produced in the ancient region of Gandhara (in modern northern Pakistan) in the 3rd or 4th century BC, is valued at up to $300,000.

The modern depiction of Buddha is fascinatingly different to this older image

There was a fascinating cross pollination between Greco-Roman and eastern art around this time due to centuries of successive conquests.

In fact, it’s where the modern depiction of the Buddha comes from. You can see the origins in this piece, although here Gautama is shown with a typically south-Asian facial structure.


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