Gallery:
New Acquisitions
November 2019

LOKESHVARA

Khmer art, Cambodia
Bayon style, 13th century
Sandstone – H. 82 cm

Lokeshvara, the “Lord of the World”, is the most worshipped bodhisattva in the Khmer area and is an emanation of the Buddha Amitabha, “Boundless Light”, from whom he inherits the infinite radiance. While able to attain nirvana, the bodhisattva chooses to stay in the world in order to lead other beings to salvation. This Lokeshvara bears an image of Amitabha in his high cylindrical crop of stylised locks of hair turned into a crown. In his very short vest, which leads to surmise that the statue was also dressed up with real vestments, the end of cloth pulled between the legs falls on the front and rear in the classical anchor-shaped draping. The belt is composed of plaques with eight-petalled lotus flowers – the sacred number refers to the eightfold path of Buddhist salvation – placed within a double raw of small pearls which also ornaments the vest border. The concentration, contemplation and the state of contented bliss relax the bodhisattva’s lips in the ineffable inner smile which makes the main characteristic of the Bayon style.

Marilia Albanese

SHIVA e PARVATI (Umamaheshvara)

India, Rajasthan
11th century
Grey stone (basalt?)
H. 91 cm

Shiva and his consort Uma or Parvati, the supreme divine couple, sit united in an everlasting embrace (“Uma and the Great Lord”). Together, they constitute the Absolute, the Whole. He embodies the immutable, the eternal; she is the energy, the dynamic aspect. They symbolise the opposites and their overcoming, the multiplicity of things and the return to the One. Here the god’s bearing is imperturbed, motionless, while all the initiative and tension is concentrated in Uma’s figure. The characteristic animals of the two gods, the bull and the lion, couch at their feet.

Cinzia Pieruccini

SHIVA TEMPLE, ELEPHANTA ISLAND

cm 48 x 65
(also published in: “India Yesterday and Today-Aquatints by Thomas & William Daniell”, by George Michell and Antonio Martinelli, Swan Hill Press, England, 1998, bottom of page 182)

A shivalinga at the heart of this shrine is offered to the devotion of the faithful in this rock-cut temple, guarded by pairs of huge guardians placed along the entrances on the four sides. The flat ceiling is supported by fine partially carved columns, while the heap of destroyed rocks on the left of the image indicates a former natural access to the temple.

For further informations about the Daniell, read the article “Five Aquatints by Thomas e William Daniell” published on the Articles section.

THE KANAUJ MOSQUE

cm 48 x 65
(also published in: “India Yesterday and Today-Aquatints by Thomas & William Daniell”, by George Michell and Antonio Martinelli, Swan Hill Press, England, 1998, page 92 left)

The remains of the Kanauj mosque date from the 7th-8th century but the other buildings erected by Iraham Shah of Jaunpur date from 1406. Today the site is called Makhdum Jhanina, and it features columns, arches and a prayer room typical of Muslim architecture before the Moghul invasion.

For further informations about the Daniell, read the article “Five Aquatints by Thomas e William Daniell” published on the Articles section.

CAPARISONED HORSE

China – Northern Wei Period (386-534)
Polychrome pottery – H. 33 cm
Dating confirmed by TL (thermoluminescence) test

The long and peaceful reign of the Han dynasty, from206 BCE to220 CE, was followed by four centuries of internal conflicts and barbarian invasions. The Northern Wei dynasty was part of this period of upheaval in which art reflected the turbulences.  Power was no longer represented by the naturalistic images of men and animals but in the prominence of militarism. Thus, the caparisoned horses—pride and delight of the imperial rulers—became the representation of supremacy

Unlike the stiff and stocky stylization of Han horses, this horse has thinner legs. The size of its large arched neck is gradually reduced towards the small, delicate head.  The dynamism of its posture is emphasized by the curve of the neck and the big sloping saddle on its back. 

This animal is dressed with decorations found in Northern Wei horses such as small bells, knobs and plumes. These embellishments are seen in the wonderful oblique saddle, the plume on top of the head, the small bells decorating the breast. The bells were likely a sort of music that sounded in the dancing walk of a skilfully trained horse.

The date of this piece has been confirmed by the TL test (thermo luminescence test).

LOKAPALA – TOMB GUARDIAN

China
Tang dynasty (618-907)
Polychrome pottery
H. 56 cm
Dating confirmed by TL (thermoluminescence) test

This lokapala, a mythological figure protecting the tomb from desecraters, demons and evil spirits, stands firmly upon the body of an ox, one foot on its head, the other on its back. The right hand probably wielded a spear or a sword, the left is fully outstretched to balance the body. Projecting eyes, a fierce look, tight jaws and furled brow characterize the grotesque mask of this invincible creature. The elaborate suit of armour modelling the powerful body is made up of several elements. From the dragon-head shaped shoulders the arms stick out wrapped in long fluttering sleeves; a collar in the shape of an animal horn protects the neck. The garment decorated with roundels in relief and with delicate floral motifs ends diagonally in a point at the front and in a sort of train at the rear, thus uncovering the high protective boots.

The supernatural force of this oneiric creature is enhanced by the dynamism of his stocky body and by the waves of the decorations and textiles in which he is elegantly clad; an elegance made extraordinary by the deep colour of the original pigments and by the rims illuminated with gold-leaf applications.

The TL test (thermoluminescence) has confirmed the dating.

Renzo Freschi - asian art
Renzo Freschi
info@renzofreschi.com
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