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Treasures for sale during Asia Week, part 1

March 18, 2012

Lot 92: Cover for Sale of the Doris Wiener Collection: Lot 92 An important gilt bronze figure of Padmapani Nepal, 13th century, 17 7/8 in. (45.4 cm.) high, Estimate: $250,000 - $350,000. HAMMER PRICE: $2,150,000.00

Asia Week in New York kicks off with exhibitions, sales and auctions including the Tuesday March 20 sale at Christie’s of the collection of Indian and Southeast Asian art from the late dealer Doris Wiener, some 370 lots altogether. One of the principal works is an 11th century bronze group of Somaskanda from South India. There are also several wonderful stone works from Indonesia, India and Cambodia, but the images of battered and partially dismembered can’t help but bring to mind the recently reported controversy about attempts by Cambodia to repatriate an allegedly looted Khmer statue that was offered last March at Sotheby’s in New York.

LOT 131: A Thangka of Four Mandalas of Hevajra, Tibet 16th Century, The red female deity Jnana Dakini seated at center with Abhayakara Gupta, dressed in the robes of a monk, surrounded by four mandalas, each with a form of Hevajra on a lotus blossom surrounded by deities and within palace walls, together representing the Tantric aspects of Body, Speech, Mind, and Essence, with charnel grounds in the four directions and intermediate directions each with their own Direction God of the Cemetery
Opaque pigments and gold on textile
20 x 18 in. (50.8 x 45.7 cm.) Estimate: $150,000-250,000. HAMMER PRICE $720,000. SOLD TO THE SAME BUYER AS LOT 92 (ABOVE).

LOT 131 key to iconography.

Lot 131: In Himalayan Buddhism, the mandala is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional space, such as the celestial palace where a specific deity resides. They are comprised of concentric circles and squares occupied by the main deity at center and figures from his or her retinue arranged in order of importance in the interstitial spaces. Sometimes they include a landscape, and additional lineage figures above and below, as in the present example. All of these details contribute to the rich visual iconongraphy which rewards multiple viewings; with each perusal, the devotee begins with the main figures and then delves deeper into the details, which guide his or her mediation on the specific tantra depicted.

In the present painting, seated at center next to the red female deity Jnana Dakini and wearing monastic robes and a pandita hat is Abhayakaragupta, author of the Vajravali text upon which this painting is based. They are surrounded by the four principal mandalas of the Hevajra Tantra which, clockwise from upper right, depict Chitta Hevajra, Kaya Hevajra, Vak Hevajra, and Shri Hevajra Kapaladhara.

This painting has an inscription at the top stating that it is painting #2 in a set of Vajravali mandala paintings created to commemorate the death of the 11th Ngor Khenpo, head of the Ngor sub-school, Sanggye Sengge (1504-1569). At bottom is another dedicatory inscription indicating it was commissioned by the 13th Ngor Khenpo Drangti Namkha Palzang (1532-1602). Given the dates in these two inscriptons, this set of paintings should be dated to between 1569 and 1602 at the latest. There are two other paintings, also with these inscriptions, currently identified from this painting set. It is an excellent example of the Newari style from this period, and also in excellent condition.

Lot 60: An important bronze group of Somaskanda, South India, Chola period, circa 11th century. 25¼ in. (64.1 cm.) wide, Estimate $800,000-1,200,000. HAMMER PRICE $1,550,000.00

According to the Lot Notes (there’s also an audio recording here about this work):

Somaskanda stands for “Shiva with Uma and Skanda,” the latter figure being their son and who stands between them. This iconography is an important and clearly defined type closely adhered to throughout the Chola period in South India, whereas Umamaheshvara, the depiction of Uma and Shiva with their other son Ganesha, predominates in the north.Along with the lingam, the depiction of Shiva in the context of family was considered the most important image of the deity and was routinely found in the inner sanctum of nearly every South Indian Shaivite temple. In contrast to the abstract lingam, the Somaskanda was the manifestation of the deity, and according to the philosophy of the medieval South Indian Shiva worshippers, the god could only impart grace upon the devotee when in the company of his wife Parvati.

Lot 143: An andesite head of Buddha, Indonesia, Central Java, 9th century, 14½ in. (36.8 cm.) high. Estimate: $60,000 - $80,000. HAMMER PRICE $140.000.

Lot 150: A volcanic stone figure of Ganesha , Indonesia, Central Java, 9th century, 37 in. (94 cm.) high. Estimate: $150,000-250,000. "BIDDING" STOPPED AT $75,000. AND THIS LOT FAILED TO SELL.

DETAIL of Lot 150: A volcanic stone figure of Ganesha , Indonesia, Central Java, 9th century, 37 in. (94 cm.) high. Estimate: $150,000-250,000. "BIDDING" STOPPED AT $75,000. AND THIS LOT FAILED TO SELL.

Lot 151: A sandstone figure of Buddha Shakyamuni, Khmer, Angkor Borei, 9th century, 32½ in. (82.6 cm.) high. Estimate: $180,000-250,000. HAMMER PRICE $280,000.

DETAIL of Lot 151: A sandstone figure of Buddha Shakyamuni, Khmer, Angkor Borei, 9th century, 32½ in. (82.6 cm.) high. Estimate: $180,000-250,000. HAMMER PRICE $280,000.

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