Copper alloy and painted details
c. 15th century
H. 40.0 W. 25.2 D. 19.0
Private collection, Belgium
Detail: close up
The Indian master Atisha (982-1054) was of seminal importance to the diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet during the eleventh century. A luminary of Vikramashila, a celebrated monastery and university in present day Bihar, Atisha was invited to Tibet where he inspired the formation of the Kadam School. And it was Atisha’s strict adherence to the monastic canon that was the source of inspiration for the great reformer Tsong Khapa (1357-1419) in the inception of the New Kadam, the Gelukpa order.
is shown wearing the tall cap of the Lotsawa, translator of sacred
Atisha sits with legs crossed in the diamond position, beautifully
poised with a gentle sway of the body as he brings his hands up to
form the dharmacakramudra.2
Not only is the sculptor’s art on display, in the eloquence
of the hand gestures for example, but also the painter who has added
that magical touch of animation to the face, imbuing this charming
Tibetan sculpture with warmth and character.
Compare the style and shape of the cap with long lappets falling to
the shoulders, to that worn by Drogmi Lotsawa; see Rossi & Rossi,
2003, pl. 7.
all text & images © 2005 The authors, the photographers and the Ethnographic Museum, Antwerp