AAB 2014 – Dr. Amy Heller : The Sculptures of Western Tibet in the 11th to 13th centuries and their artistic debt to Kashmir
To honour the memory of his father, Rinchen bzangpo, royal chapelain to the king of Gu.ge, commissioned a sculpture of Avalokiteshvara by the Kashmiri sculptor Bhidhaka. This life-size standing sculpture shows exceptional prowess in casting and inlay techniques.
At present, this Avalokiteshvara is enshrined in a chapel in the family hometown of Khatse near the Gu.ge capital at Toling. This sculpture acquired great renown, undoubtedly inspiring numerous artists working in Gu.ge-Pu.hrang and Ladakh. Notably, in 996, at the consecration of Khojarnath, a great sculpture was cast leading to the sculpture triad of Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and Vajrapani which, known as the “Three Silver Brothers”, became the palladium of the kingdom of Pu.hrang.
Tibetan historical sources also inform us that Rinchen bzangpo imported sculptures of different aspects of Tara, Avalokiteshvara and Manjushr 8 from Kashmir. In the light of Tibetan dedication inscriptions on sculptures and Tibetan historical documents, this presentation will study the historical, iconographical and aesthetic relationships of these Kashmiri metal sculptures and the sculptures they inspired both cast in metal and modeled in clay in the kingdoms of Gu.ge-Pu.hrang and Ladakh during the 11th to early 13th century.
Amy Heller studied art history at Columbia University, the Tibetan language at Institut National de Langues Orientales in Paris, and her doctorate in Tibetan History and Philology at La Sorbonne.
Since 1986 she has been affiliated with the Paris Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. Visiting Professor in Rome at La Sapienza (2006 and 2008) and also Research Associate in Tibetan art (2011-2013) at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies University of London). Since 2007, she works regularly as visiting Professor of Art history and Cultural History at Center for Tibetan Studies, Sichuan University.
Her most recent book is Hidden Treasures of the Himalayas, Tibetan manuscripts, paintings, and Sculptures of Dolpo (2009, Serindia Publications).
P. Pal, Bronzes of Kashmir, Graz, Akademische Verlag, 1975
R.Goepper, J. Poncar: Alchi Ladakh’s Hidden Buddhist Sanctuary, London, Serindia, 1996.
C. Luczanits, Buddhist Sculptures in Clay, Serindia, 2006.
A.K. Singh: Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Bronzes from Western Himalayas (forthcoming)
J. Siudmak, Hindu-Buddhist Sculptures of Ancient Kashmir,2013
P. Van Ham, R. Linrothe, A. Heller, G. Kozicz: Heavenly Himalayas,Munich, Prestel, 2010
A. Heller: “The Three Silver Brothers” Orientations March 2003
A. Heller: “Observations on an 11th Century Tibetan Inscription on a Statue of Avalokiteśvara.” Revue des Etudes tibétaines, vol. 14, 2008: 107-119
Date : June 5, 2015
Location : Brussels