15. Yogin
(cat. pl. 31)
c. 12th-13th centuries
Copper alloy with traces of pigment
h. 26.4 cm


The powerful gaze of this impressive figure is characteristic of Tibetan depictions of yogic adepts. Elongated, pierced earlobes are further indications of his spiritual nature. His torso is loosely cloaked with a simple robe, the right hand raised in the gesture of fearlessness (abhaya mudra) while the left holds the end of his robe. Similarities may be drawn with a c. twelfth- to thirteenth-century seated yogin in the Robert Hatfield Ellsworth Collection.331 Both images have wide open staring eyes and hair arranged as twisted tresses standing on end. The Ellsworth yogin is completely naked while the Nyingjei Lam yogin wears a heavy robe over his bare torso.

The back of the lotus base exhibits cut out shapes, as do other c. twelfth-century works in this collection (pls. 14, 14a and 16).332 The lotus petal design resembles eastern Indian models, for example that in a c. twelfth century Buddha from Fatehpur (fig. 31), an image once in the Bodh Gaya Museum, but since stolen.333 The relative simplicity of the figural form and the arrangement of the robe around the yogin are further indications that this image dates to about the twelfth or thirteenth centuries. A baseplate of iron secures the consecration materials within the figure. (cat. pl. 31)

331. Published in Rhie and Thurman (1991), fig. 8, p. 46 and in Reedy (1996), figs. 4-6.
332. The back of the base has been damaged and is now bent into the cavity beneath the seat, but one can still discern two large cut-out sections. The iron baseplate, which remains intact, is placed directly beneath the figure rather than in the normal position, which would be at the bottom edge of the lotus seat.
333. See Ray, Khandalavala and Gorakshkar (1986), fig. 232, p. 152.

images © Nyingjei Lam
text © D. Weldon, Jane C. Singer