Inner Mongolian Copper and Gilt-Bronze Composite Palden Lhamo Figural Group
Circa 1700, probably Chahar, near Dolonnor
The fierce goddess seated on a bell-shaped plinth over a row of prostrate figures beside an acolyte mirroring her ferocious expression, one hand lifted in simhamukha mudra, the other held before the chest, her wrathful face with fanged teeth, bulging eyes, and a third eye centered by thick brows, crowned by flaming hair adorned with a crescent moon and parasol of peacock feathers, dressed in billowing robes and undulating scarves. Height 13 1/2 inches.
The Pan-Asian Collection, Christian Humann
Christie's, New York, December 1, 1982, lot 311
Three fundamental images for establishing the parameters of Mongolian Art, were discovered in a ruined temple in Chahar, circa 1930s and taken to Stockholm, Sweden and deposited in the Folkens Museum Etnografiska. Of the three images, a Vajrapani group, which is the only krodha (angry) image of the three, matches almost exactly the hair, facial features (despite being a male), and other details of the present example. The three images are illustrated by Rhie and Thurman, Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet, New York, 1996, pls. 1, 35 and 36. Lhamo, the only feminine divinity among the Dharmapala (Defenders of the Faith) is usually seated astride a mule, replaced here by prostrate figures. In this image she wears a tiger skin skirt at her waist and the flayed skin of her own son, tied by one arm and one leg around her neck, with the head visible to her right side and with the remaining outstretched limbs visible to the reverse. She is regarded as the leader of all the female spirits of Tibet. The New York financier Christian Humann assembled the Pan-Asian Collection during the 1950s -60s and 1970's. He was a member of the banking family of Lazard Freres. About 160 works from the holdings were exhibited anonymously in the late 70s as the Pan-Asian Collection in the show "Sensual Immortals" which opened at the Los Angeles County Museum before traveling to other US cities.
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