1005. A Tibeto-Chinese Repousse Figure of Buddha

An Imperial Tibeto-Chinese Gilt Repoussé Figure of Buddha 'Vipulabuddhi', (Chinese: Guang yi fu), The Buddha is sitting in dhyanasana on a double lotus throne with beaded rim, his left hand in dhyanamudra and his right hand in bhumisparshamudra, dressed in flowing robes with a distinct fold over his left arm, his face with an elegant and serene expression, incised on the front edge of the throne the reign mark 'Da Qing Qianlong nian jing zao' (respectfully made during the Qianlong period of the great Qing). The Buddha is identified by his name rendered in five languages: Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan (blo yangs), Manchurian (onco surengge/sarangge fucihi) and Mongolian (aguu oyutu). Gilded brass/copper, pigment and later cold gold paste, not sealed, Qianlong mark and of the period (1736-1796), height c. 31 cm; wear

From a Danish private collection, purchased during the first half of the 20th century, thence by descent to the present owner.

The figure belongs to the rare set of the 1000 Buddhas commissioned by the emperor Qianlong as a gift for his mother, presumably for her 80th birthday in 1771. The name of Vipulabuddhi - "He with the profound/extensive intellect" - corresponds to number 225 in a list with the names of the 1000 Buddhas, rendered in the five languages and compiled under the supervision of the State Preceptor and Grand Lama of Beijing, the Jangkya Hutuktu Rolpa'i Dorje (1717-1786), who was adviser to the emperor in religious matters and assisted in providing important Buddhist items for the Qing court at that time. The list starts with Buddha Krakucchanda and ends with Buddha Roca(na) as number 1000, wich corresponds to the names given in the Bhadrakalpikasutra.

According to tradition the teaching of the 1000 Buddhas originated from a sermon held by Buddha Shakyamuni on the Vulture mountain while staying at Rajagriha. The highest Buddhahood is promised to those who hear, learn, read, speak, or may cause to be written these blessed names. They occur in several Buddhist scriptures in Tibetan and Chinese translations, where the Bhadrakalpikasutra, Saddharmapundarikasutra, the Avatamsakasutras and a Khotanese manuscript scroll from Tun-huang, are among the most prominent.
Representations of the 1000 Buddhas are known from different temples, such as the Yün-kang cave-temples, the Tun-huang Cave 427, the Golden Hall of the Toshodaiji monastery at Nara.

Compare with figures from the same set:

Sotheby's, Fine Jadeite Jewellery, Jade Carvings and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 16 November 1989, lot 586 (Velamaraja, number 208)

Uppsala Auktionskammare, Asian sale - Ceramics and Works of Art, 3 December 2013, lot 35 (Sudatta, number 243)

Christie's, Inspired Themes: A fine Selection of Chinese Works of Art, London, 10 May 2016, lot 15 (Vasudeva, number 227)

Lokesh Chandra, Iconography of the thousand Buddhas, 1996

Stockholms Auktionsverk would like to express our sincere gratitude to Karl-Gunnar Gardell for his valuable information and contribution to this text. We also would like to extend our gratefulness to Professor Staffan Rosén for interpreting the inscriptions.