Newar Sculptors and Tibetan Patrons in the 20th Century
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Newar Sculptors and Tibetan Patrons in the 20th Century Erberto Lo Bue This article is meant to supplement my previous studies on the role played by the Newars of the Nepal Valley in the history of Tibetan art and culture1 with the results of a recent research—carried out in December 2000 under the sponsorship of the University of Bologna—updating my earlier fieldwork in the Nepal Valley (19721975, 1977-1978 and 1986), in the Tibetan settlements of India (1981-1982) and in Tibet itself (1987, 1995-1997). During my last visit to the Nepal Valley, I was able to record the artistic production of the most representative Newar sculptors working for Tibetan clients, by interviewing a number of sculptors, collecting information on dead artists from their descendants, colleagues or former pupils, as well as locating and having pictures taken of the most representative 20th century Newar statues found in Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples. Such research was initially prompted by my painful awareness of the almost total lack of historical information concerning the traditional sculptors who have contributed to preserve and transmit the cultural heritage of Buddhism in the 20th century through the production of a number of images fashioned not only for monasteries and temples in the Nepal Valley, but also for monastic foundations in Bhutan, India, Tibet (both before and after the demise of the Lamaist state), Japan, Taiwan and Mongolia, as well as other parts of the Asian and non-Asian Buddhist world. The general lack of interest in this topic reflects a common attitude by art historians and collectors, who generally discount religious art works produced after the 31st December 1899 of the Christian Era and choose to ignore the contribution afforded by generations of artists to the preservation of Buddhism through the transmission of its visual forms in the course of a century-old process of which the present is but the continuation. I am equally aware of the caveat expressed by Rob Linrothe (in note.4 to his brilliant essay in this volume) in guarding against repeating on the blind alleys of Western art history and against the danger of recreating a history of great men, of individual geniuses who shaped the course of art by creating “originals.” I sympathize with his view that a social history of art may be a corrective to romanticisms of the spiritualizing and the aestheticizing varieties. I do not wish to become the Giorgio Vasari of 20th century Newar artists, also because I am not an artist myself; but I believe that it is important to record a page in the history of Buddhist art before it becomes anonymous and difficult to date. The study of 20th century Buddhist art works is all the more important since Buddhist images do not merely represent the Buddha and various deities of the Buddhist pantheon, but are “dynamically involved” in the production of religious meaning. They have an ontological significance in their own right and serve to “complete” the ontology of their prototypes. 2 As in the past, the most important religious images produced by the Newar sculptors of the Nepal Valley are generally commissioned by competent religious masters for an audience including a large proportion of ordinary—sometimes even illiterate—faithful, who are unlikely to resort to texts in order to interpret the
124 THE TIBET JOURNAL complexities of the Buddhist or Brahmanical pantheon any more than the majority of Christian devotees would when praying in front of their images. Texts often follow religious practice and oral tradition rather than precede them,3 and excessive focus on textual sources may risk to create an incomplete picture of Buddhist art by obscuring vital aspects of Buddhist thought and practice.4 In particular the one-toone correlation between a specific image and a given text may sometimes prove methodologically unsatisfactory and even incorrect; images can hardly be determined by a single textual source, whereas they ought to be contextualized within a larger field including not only texts, but also practices and ideas as well as local and extra-artistic factors.5 This does not mean dismissing the importance of the relationship of religious art with religious writing, but it does mean that religious texts should be analysed in connection with the modus operandi of the artists and within the local environment in which images are produced, bearing in mind that iconography describes a preexisting situation before prescribing it. In other words religious images should be recontextualized within a non-exclusively textual environment; then the importance of their role in the transmission and preservation of Buddhism may become clearer than it is now. Before affording that kind of recontextualisation, however, a survey of the present artistic output ought to be made. Hence the purpose of this article is limited to sharing some of the data I have collected on the main traditional Buddhist Newar sculptors of the 20th century, primarily recording their production in relation to their patronage and social background, and referring only secondarily to their sources, materials and techniques, which have already been dealt with in earlier publications. The main artists taken here into consideration are, in alphabetical order: “Babu” Kaji Vajracarya (b. 1942); Bhima Sakya (b. 1932); Bodhi Raja Sakya (1920-1990); Candra Bhai (b. 1949); Indra Raja Vajracarya (b. 1956); Jagat Mana Sakya (b. 1940); Kalu Kuma (b. 1933); Kesa Raja Sakya (1909-1967); Kubera Simha Sakya (18811958); Mana Jyoti Sakya (1917-1990); Mohan Raja Sakya (b. 1962); Nhuchhe Raja Sakya (b. 1933); Pañca Raja Vajracarya (b. 1916); Raja Kumara Sakya (b. 1966); Rajes Kuma (b. 1954); Rudra Raja Sakya (b. 1927); Saogha Ratna Sakya (1932-1995); Santa Kumara Sakya (b. 1947); and Siddhi Raja Sakya (b. 1924). Their artistic production will be analysed following a chronological criterion, sometimes within their own family history. KUBERA SIUHA SAKYA AND HIS DESCENDANTS The dean of the Newar sculptors working for Tibetan monasteries during the 20th century, Kubera Simha Sakya (1881-1958), specialized in repoussé work. A fine iconometric drawing prepared by this artist for a multipart 3-m-high copper repoussé image of Maitreya commissioned to him by the king of Bhutan in the 1930s is kept at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D. C. and has been recently studied by Mary Shepherd Slusser, who points out that “even the well-known ‘mid-17th century’ portrait image of King Pratapa Malla (1641-1674) and family that crowns a pillar in Kathmandu Darbar Square is in fact a replacement made by Kuber Singh in the 1940s.”6 Together with his sons—Kesa Raja Sakya (1909-1967) and Rudra Raja Sakya (“Mahila” b. 1927)—Kubera Simha produced important images for several Buddhist
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monasteries in Nepal. In 1943, the three artists walked for six days to reach the monastery of Begu—in the Dolakha district of Nepal, on the ancient route leading from the Nepal Valley to Tibet—to fashion a 183-cm-high silver image of Vajrasattva, for which 80000 tôlas—that is 928 kilos (1 tôla = 11.6 grams)—of silver were used. The statue had been ordered for a monastery in Bhutan by Kun bzang Bla ma, a friend of the ’Brug pa bKa’ brgyud pa bla ma Slob dpon Tshe chu (b. 1915), who resided at Begu at the time. As we shall see, the importance of the latter in effectively patronizing the best Newar sculptors of Lalitpur can be hardly overemphasized and must be related to his high political as well as religious status: for many years Slob dpon sku zhabs Tshe chu was the Bhutanese chargé d’affaires in Nepal; and in December 2000 I met him in his capacity as spiritual leader of the monastery of Sangs rgyas Chos gling, founded by him at Kindol—south of Svayambhu hill— in 1992 and inaugurated by the king of Nepal on the 21st November 1997. The three sculptors spent six months in Begu and then—instead of returning to Lalitpur—went to Atharasse Khola (Nubri Gau, not far from Begu and Tatopani) instead, in order to fashion a 183-cm-high copper statue of Maitreya, which they later fire-gilded, to replace an earlier image in a monastery there; by then it was 1944. At Atharasse, where they spent nine months, they were also commissioned by a Tibetan monk to fashion 18 prayer wheels in two different sizes (15 and 11 cm respectively). In 1946 the three artists proceeded to sKyid grong, in south-western Tibet, to fashion a small throne with pillars supporting a canopy for the famous statue of ’Phags pa Wa ti Lokesvara, which in the second half of the eighth century had been taken to that site from the Nepal Valley and was kept in a monastery there. During their stay at sKyid grong they also made a 76-cm-high gilded copper statue of Sakyamuni together with two 61-cm-high images portraying Sariputra and Maudgalyayana for Kun bzang Rin po che. The three sculptors were then invited to sPang zhing, a monastery north-west of sKyid grong on the way to rDzong kha, to restore a 51-cmhigh statue portraying a yogini and to decorate the main temple with repoussé metal work. After that, they were invited by one dGe bshes Rin po che to the monastery of “Sritopa”7 to make a 71-cm-high gilded copper image of Sakyamuni, and then to the monastery of Gunang,8 always in the sKyid grong county, to fashion silver ritual pots and drums at the invitation of the abbot, “Thaka” (Brag dkar?) sKu zhabs bla ma, who became a close friend of Kubera Simha and later visited him in Lalitpur. Around 1947, while still at Gunang, the three artists received a letter from home9 requesting them to return to Lalitpur in order to take part in the new year festivities there; so they went back to sKyid grong to obtain leave to go home from a reluctant Kun bzang Rin po che. Having returned to the Nepal Valley the same year, the three sculptors embossed four images in copper and gilded them for the assembly hall of the Dharmacakra monastery, erected in 1946-1947 on the Sarasvati hill, rising beside Svayambhunatha hill, 2 km west of the centre of Kathmandu: a 135-cm-high Sakyamuni, an 84-cm-high Mañjusri, a 107-cm-high Guru Rin po che and 81-cm-high Syama Tara. After spending a couple of years at Lalitpur, around 1949 the three artists were invited again to Atharasse Kola, on that occasion to fashion a 229-cm-high gilded copper image of Padmasambhava as well as a 91-cm-high figure of Vairocana; they also made a 91cm-high portrait of the local chieftain, rGyal po bla ma, in the act of displaying the
126 THE TIBET JOURNAL dharmacakra gesture. On that second visit they spent eight months there, staying until 1950, and returned to the Nepal Valley before the fall of the Rana rule. Kubera Simha’s last important commission was the 366-cm-high gilded copper image of Sakyamuni located in the entrance hall of the Karmaraja monastery, erected in 1953195510 by the Red Hat Karma bKa’ brgyud pa school on the top of Svayambhu (Fig.1). It took him about three and a half years (end of 1954-3rd May 1958) to emboss and chase that masterpiece with the help of his son, Kesa Raja. The image contains a relic of Sakyamuni and was offered to the monastery by one Juju (Jurjur?) Mana Tamrakara,11 obviously a member of the Newar “Thambat” caste of craftsmen working copper, zinc and brass. Kesa and Rudra continued their father’s activity after his demise on the 29th August 1958. In 1961 the two brothers together with Harka Raja Sakya—a relation of Rudra’s—went to Helambu (Helmu; Tib. Yol mo), about 75 km north-east of Kathmandu, at the invitation of bKra shis Shar pa12 to make a 183-cm-high prayer wheel for the monastery of Sermathang. In Helambu they also worked at the monastery of Bakhang, where they restored an eleven-headed statue of Avalokitesvara and fashioned a silver mandala as well as four Garuda heads. After that, Kesa and Harka returned to Lalitpur, while Rudra remained in Helambu and proceeded to Tarkegyang to fashion a 183-cm-high prayer wheel for the shrine next to the assembly hall of the monastery in that village. It should be mentioned here that a relative of Kesa Raja’s, Purna Bahadur Sakya (b. 1931), also from Lalitpur, went to Gangtok (Sikkim) in 1958 to work as a silversmith. On my visit to his shop-cum-workshop on the 24th October 1981, I noticed several Tibetan-style ritual and domestic silver objects made by him: butter-lamps, thang thog (finials for thang ka sticks), prayer wheels, tea-bowl stands and lids, boxes, etc.; he also sold ritual bells as well as metal images. Incidentally, at the time of my fieldwork in Sikkim there were about one hundred Newars in Gangtok, most of them Sakya traders and craftsmen from Lalitpur. In the main town of Sikkim, I met three more Sakya goldsmiths from Lalitpur, one of whom had various statues obviously made in Uku Baha—including a 27.5-cm-high copper Acala fashioned by Nhuchhe Raja Sakya (see below)—, Tibetan silver butter-lamps and local as well as Tibetan and Newar-style silver jewellery; another had a beautiful parcel-gilt silver ga’u (reliquary box); and a third one, Asha Kazi, owned a shop—‘‘Gold and Silver Ornament”—in Mahatma Gandhi Marg. A fourth craftsman, also a goldsmith from Nepal, did not belong to the Sakya caste, but was a Visvakarma. Kesa Raja’s son, Caitya Raja Sakya (b. 1956), and above all Rudra Raja’s son, namely Raja Kumara Sakya (b. 27th August 1966), have continued their family’s traditional craft. The former works as a chaser and the latter as an embosser at his father’s house in the Thaina quarter of Lalitpur. Raja Kumara, in particular, fully assisted his father in his work, while pursuing his own studies from 1974 to 1982. Although he was injured in a bad accident in 1978, when he was burned by the blast of the hot wax mixture—called “jhau” in Newari—used by sculptors to fix and support metal sheets for chasing (see Fig.8), he enjoyed working with his father. The economic difficulties into which his family ran, after orders dwindled following Kubera Simha’s demise, eventually compelled him to give up his hopes for higher education and, after ending school, he devoted himself entirely to his craft. In 1983, Raja Kumara was requested to make a silver torana and silver pillars for a shrine devoted to the sacred snake Vasuki—the guardian of Pasupati’s treasure—
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rising north-east of the main temple of Pasupatinatha, at Deopatan (Nepal Valley); he was also commissioned to cover the Sivalioga of the same shrine with a silver sheathing—a traditional Newar practice in the case of particularly important images— and to fashion a seven-hooded snake for the same. He first prepared the sheathing and the image using a copper sheet; then he covered the latter with the silver sheet. His patrons must have been impressed by his work, as in the following year the artist was requested to make a gold snake symbolising the kundalini to be placed around the holiest Hindu image in Nepal: the stone Sivalioga housed in the main temple of Pasupatinatha. Before receiving that commission, he had to produce a silver prototype, which he covered with a gold sheet after receiving the approval of his clients. Tibetan lamas then commissioned him to make three huge copper prayer wheels— one measuring 366 cm in height—for the main eastern gate at the foot of Svayambhu hill (c. 1985), and a fourth one measuring 274 cm in height; the last one was placed near the entrance of bCo brgyad Khri chen Rin po che’s Maitreya monastery, a Sa skya pa foundation built in 1981-1983 on the western side of the stupa of Bodhnatha with the help of Newar donors and consecrated in 1985.13 Other huge prayer wheels by Raja Kumara are found in monasteries in sMos thang and at Manang; many were made in the period 1985-1987. Furthermore, Raja Kumara fashioned between three and four hundred gilded copper stupas for Tibetan clients and shops, the tallest one measuring 168 cm in height. One of them, made in 1986 and measuring 122 cm in height (Fig.2), may be seen at Svayambhu, at the eastern end of the eastern shrine in the main assembly of the Maitreya monastery of dGa’ ldan Byams mgon mDo sngags bShad sgrub Thar ’dod Gling, a dGe lugs pa foundation established in 1954 and rebuilt in 1986 according to the inscription found above its main gate. Raja Kumara also received several orders from Japan, in particular from a museum which in 1993 commissioned him to fashion 39 haloes (one measuring 244 cm and 30 measuring 61 cm in height) for different deities, including an eleven-headed and one-thousand-armed manifestation of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, for which he also fashioned the crown of arms and the crown itself; at the time of our meetings in December 2000, he was waiting to leave for Japan to fit the items he had made. In 1996 he fashioned a copper mandala devoted to Amitabha—measuring 305 x 305 cm—for the Nakkayamadeva monastery, rising in a hilly area near Osaka; for that order Raja Kumara was provided with the iconography of the five deities belonging to that particular mandala. After the mandala was gilded and despatched to Japan, he went there to fix it against a ceiling in the monastery. Since then he has made more large-size copper mandalas, such as the 200-cm-one devoted to Hevajra, on which he was still working in December 2000 with the help of two pupils. The latter had completed the first two years of the course Raja Kumara holds at the arts school of Akresvara monastery—at Pulchowk, in Lalitpur—where he teaches his craft together with line drawing, an art at which he is an expert and to which he attaches the utmost importance. In 1998 Raja Kumara fashioned the 13 brass rings for the spire of a 25-m-high copy of the Great Stupa of Svayambhu, which was exhibited at Expo-2000, in Hannover. The number and variety of the metal work he has produced for the temples and monasteries in the Nepal Valley as well as for private collectors is truly impressive and would require a special article devoted to the subject. His prestige
128 THE TIBET JOURNAL in Nepal is sanctioned also by the items he made in 1996-1997 for the showcases in the Patan Museum of Lalitpur in order to illustrate the techniques of the repoussé craft. MANA JYOTI SAKYA AND HIS FAMILY One of Kubera Simha Sakya’s closest friends, although much younger than him, was the most famous Newar sculptor of the 20th century: Mana Jyoti Sakya (19177th October 1990), better known under the local nickname of Ciridai (Mr. Shorty), with reference to his size. He belonged to a lineage of well-known artisans living in the main artists’ quarter in Lalitpur: Uku (also Oku or Woku) Baha,14 borrowing its name from an early monastic foundation also known as Rudravaroa Mahavihara, where religious life survives to this day thanks to the support of devoted keepers, often belonging to the artists’ families themselves. I have briefly dealt with this sculptor elsewhere15 and here I shall limit myself to updating information related to the main topic of this article. Mana Jyoti had established a reputation of his own as a sculptor working with the lost-wax casting process as well as modelling in clay by the early 1940s, when he was commissioned to make a life-size statue of Guru Rin po che, the first of number of important orders from the Bhutanese royal family by which he was later officially invited to Bhutan, where he spent five months in 1947, working and visiting the country. Around 1947 Mana Jyoti fashioned the 114-cm-high partially painted bronze portraying Guru Rin po che for Jatha Baha, a monastery also known as Padmavarna Vihara—not far from Rudravarna Mahavihara—and dating to the time of a 16th century Newar religious man, Abhayaraja, who built the temple of Mahabodhi of which this monastery is a branch.16 Since at least 1940, Tibetan Buddhists have taken interest in this monastery and in the 1970s and 1980s a Tibetan monk of the rNying ma pa tradition resided on its premises. The fine 84-cm-high painted clay Radakrari Avalokitesvara and the 76-cm-high Amitabha belonging, like Padmasambhava, to the mystic family of the Lotus—of which the monastery bears the name—, seated on either side of the central image, were finely modelled by Mana Jyoti a couple of years later, in 1949. About that time Mana Jyoti also fashioned the 183-cm-high clay Maitreya sitting in the main shrine of the Dharmacakra Mahavihara in Jamal, Kathmandu.17 By 1952 the artist had completed the four 50-cm-high gilded copper transcendental or cosmic Buddhas (Skr. jina; Tib. rgyal ba) placed in the niches at the cardinal points in the dome of the main stupa known as Santighata Caitya or Kathe “Simbu” (that is “Kathmandu Svayambhu”), rising in the courtyard of the Sigha Baha (or Santighata Caitya Mahavihara), Kathmandu.18 Mana Jyoti then started training artists such as Siddhi Raja Sakya, one of the best sculptors active in the Nepal Valley (see below), who was an apprentice of his for three years. During the same period the master started receiving important orders from Tibetan and Bhutanese clients, and modelled the 99-cm-high brass image of Vajrasattva (Fig.3) now in the assembly hall of the abbot’s quarters in the nonsectarian monastery of bKa’ rnying bShad sgrub Gling, founded at Bodhnatha in 1973 and consecrated in 1976 by the 16th Black Hat Karma pa. Around 1955 Mana Jyoti fashioned a 213-cm-high brass image of Avalokitesvara with eight arms and eleven-heads for a Bhutanese client. We do not know when he made the portrait image of the Tibetan king Khri srong lde brtsan (another commission from Bhutan),
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of which a drawing is extant. Mana Jyoti was commissioned to make two brass images for the assembly hall of the Maitreya monastery mentioned above, in the depression between Svayambhu and Sarasvati hills: a 203-cm-high Maitreya and a 97-cmhigh Jo bo,19 occupying the central niche of the shrine and its western section respectively; both statues were gilded. The gilded copper aura, crown and ornaments of these image were fashioned by Kesa Raja Sakya. In c. 1958 the artist fashioned a 198-cm-high gilded brass image of Guru Rin po che which had originally been commissioned by a monastery in sKyid grong. As a consequence of the Lhasa uprising of 1959, the statue could not be taken to Tibet and reached instead its present location in the Karmaraja monastery at the top of Svayambhu hill, though not without another vicissitude: its right foot was stolen and Mana Jyoti had to model another. The image, partially painted, occupies the western niche of the main shrine in the entrance to that monastery, next to Kubera Simha and Kesa Raja Sakya’s colossal Buddha mentioned above. Before the Chinese army completed the invasion of Tibet, in 1959, Mana Jyoti was also commissioned to make five hundred 17-cm-high statuettes of Tsong kha pa by a Newar trader, who meant to offer them to the 14th Dalai Lama. The present location of those images is unknown, though it is likely that they never reached Tibet owing to the Chinese occupation of the country. Around the same year Mana Jyoti had received orders from three of the teachers of the Dalai Lama and from the Dalai Lama himself. Following the latter’s escape from Tibet, the artist travelled to Mussoorie in the company of the dGe lugs pa Mongolian lama, Guru Deva, to deliver his statues personally and, during his stay there, he received the Dalai Lama’s blessing. To a different commission belongs an 11-cm-high statuette portraying the foremost rNying ma pa scholar, Klong chen Rab ’byams pa, which was cast in an unusual, brittle alloy of brass and silver, and chased with great difficulty by the already mentioned Caitya Raja Sakya at a later date, in September 1978; the original sword and part of the lotus on which it rested were broken. That statuette is part of a personal loan of mine to the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 1960 the artist fashioned a c. 37-cm-high image of rJe Rin po che (Tsong kha pa) for one of the Dalai Lama’s teacher, whom he presented with the statue at Bodhnatha. Around the same year, when beginning work on a 191-cm-high20 image of Sakyamuni which he had been commissioned for the Buddhist holy site of Lumbini, Mana Jyoti first developed the pain in his elbow which, along with other ailments, was later to put an end to his activity as an artist. At the invitation of Slob dpon Tshe chu, he then journeyed to Bakhang, in Helambu, to fashion a 274-cm-high clay statue of Sakyamuni in the monastery of bKra shis rgya mtsho (founded in 1934 under Bhutanese auspices by the ’Brug pa lama Shes rab rdo rje Rin po che), also in the hope of improving his health; clay is anyway easier to model than wax. Tshe chu Rin po che, who had directed that monastery with the assistance of sKal bzang bla ma since its founder’s demise in 1945, liked that image so much that, about 35 years later, when he commissioned a Bhutanese sculptor to fashion the main clay Buddha in the assembly hall of the already mentioned monastery of Sangs rgyas Chos gling, south of Svayambhu, he asked him to draw his inspiration from Mana Jyoti’s statue in Bakhang, where the Bhutanese sculptor actually went. During the same period—around 1960—Mana Jyoti was commissioned by Slob dpon Tshe chu to make a c. 100-cm-high gilded clay image of Radakrari Avalokitesvara and one hundred
130 THE TIBET JOURNAL and eight 20-cm-high statuettes of Sakyamuni for a nunnery presided by his patron at Begu, a site where Shes rab rdo rje had founded four other monasteries. The wax for Lumbini was eventually completed and the image cast in brass; only the hands and face of the Buddha were gilded, and the statue was consecrated in 1962.21 During the same period, Mana Jyoti sculpted a 114-cm-high Maitreya for the main hall of the already mentioned Dharmacakra monastery on Sarasvati hill. In 1970, for the anniversary of Sakyamuni’s birth, devotees from Uku Baha commissioned the artist to fashion a 74-cm-high parcel-gilt image of the Buddha, which was to be carried in procession during that festival and is now kept in the eastern shrineroom on the first-floor of the Hiranyavarna Mahavihara in Lalitpur. During the same period Mana Jyoti modelled the 122-cm-high heavily gilded brass image of Sakyamuni ordered for the assembly hall of the Tibetan centre of Rikon, Switzerland.22 Towards the end of 1970, Mana Jyoti was again invited to Bhutan by its royal family, this time to teach wax-modelling to a class of three pupils. He found them unwilling to learn, even hostile, and after four months he returned to Lalitpur. More details about that second visit are known to me thanks to the lucky coincidence that Michael Aris met the artist at bDe chen Chos gling—the royal palace in Thim phu—in the company of the Nepalese politician Harka Gurung, on the 13th November 1970; both Nepalese had gone to Bhutan together with Slob dpon Tshe chu. Aris also learned that the Newar sculptor—whose name he did not remember—had worked at Bum thang, in central Bhutan, many years before—obviously in 1947— and indeed at Bum thang Aris met a father and his son, the latter called Ye shes dpal ’byor, “who had worked under his direction casting images. The Newari was of the Sakya ‘caste’ (?) and came from a famous family of hereditary craftsmen settled at Patan. In 1970 the plan was that he should cast 10,000 images of the Buddha for one of the grand projects devised by the King, probably under the inspiration of his mother Ashi Phuntsok Chödön;”23 Aris also remembered that “the plan ran into all kinds of difficulties,” and did not know if it was ever completed: a workshop was apparently established at Phun tshogs gling, but the sculptor returned to Lalitpur before long and some attempts were made to complete the order there. In the 1970s Mana Jyoti fashioned several large-size statues for Tibetan monasteries in India as well as Switzerland: the already mentioned 122-cm-high gilded brass image of Sakyamuni at Rikon; a 100-cm-high brass Jo bo Sakyamuni (19701971) for a private shrine of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala;24 a 137-cm-high brass Maitreya with aura, for one of the Dalai Lama’s teachers—possibly for a temple in Dharamsala—, whose engraving was apparently undertaken by his elder son, Ratna; the 107-cm-high brass portrait of Shes rab seng ge kept since around 1975 in the assembly hall of the rGyud smad College, established in 1974 in the Tibetan settlement of Hunsur (Karnataka); the 91-cm-high gilded brass Sakyamuni housed since about 1978 in the assembly hall of the Se ra byes college in the Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe (Karnataka); and perhaps also the 122-cm-high gilded brass Sakyamuni which reached its present location in the same assembly hall around 1981.25 Mana Jyoti’s clients included the royal families of Nepal and Bhutan, the Dalai Lama as well as the latter’s teachers. Most of his images are fashioned in an idiom in which Newar and Tibetan elements mingle, quite different from the style of images such as, for example, the 50-cm-high gilded bronze statue of Vajravarahi, one of the last orders the Newar artist received before becoming unable to work, to replace the idol stolen in 1971 from the temple of Vajravarahi, in the Nepal Valley:
NEWAR SCULPTORS AND TIBETAN PATRONS…
that image was cast in a purely Newar style, for the clients were local. Statues by Mana Jyoti are found not only in various parts of Nepal, Bhutan and India, but also in the U.S.A., Japan, Switzerland and the U. K. In 1978 Mana Jyoti stopped working altogether because of the pain at his elbow, but his work has been continued since by his two sons, Ratna Jyoti Sakya (b. 1957) and Manika Jyoti Sakya (born c. 1967),26 and above all by his former pupils, among whom the brothers Bodhi Raja and Siddhi Raja Sakya ranked first. BODHI RAJA AND SIDDHI RAJA SAKYA The brothers Bodhi Raja and Siddhi Raja Sakya inherited a long-standing family relationship with the Buddhist monasteries in the Nepal Valley and with Tibet: an ancestor of theirs worked as a goldsmith in the Land of Snows, whereas their father, Punya Raja Sakya (1881-1922), though not a sculptor by profession, cast some fine statues as offerings to monasteries, noticeably the brass images surrounding the door of the main shrine in the courtyard of the Rudravarna Mahavihara in Lalitpur. Bodhi Raja Sakya (1920-1990) worked for both Buddhist and Hindu clients, as well as for dealers and private collectors; statues of his were also made for the royal palace in Kathmandu. In 1964 he and his brother fashioned the 122-cm-high gilded brass portrait of Sri Sai Baba kept in an open circular pavilion on the premises of the Nepal Distilleries at Balaju, Nepal Valley. Cast in more that one piece, that statue proves the two artists’ ability to treat a subject with a realistic—rather than naturalistic—approach, as shown not only by the treatment of the scarf and of the folds in the ragged garment, but also by the very attitude of the yogin, sitting in a western posture with his right leg placed across the left knee; the crown is a later addition. A fine 151-cm-high gilded copper image of Sakyamuni (Fig.4), made by Bodhi Raja in 1989, is kept in the family house at Lalitpur, where his four sons Bodhi Ratna, Sanu Ratna, Jñana Bahadur and Vijaya Ratna continue their father’s craft, modelling fine Buddhist images in wax and casting them in copper. A beautiful 80-cm-high copper statue of Maitreya, fashioned in c. 1995 from Bodhi Raja’s molds, was on display in Maitri Ratna Sakya’s art gallery at Darbar Square in Lalitpur (see below) in December 2000. A 91-cm-high image of Mañjusri fashioned by Bodhi Raja was once kept in the assembly hall of the non-sectarian bKa’ rnying monastery of bShad grub gling, at Bodhnatha; the 20-cm-high statuette of Sakyamuni inside the stupa at the eastern end of the same hall was fashioned by his brother, Siddhi Raja Sakya, whereas the 110-cm-high ungilded copper image of the same subject placed along the eastern wall was made by one of Siddhi Raja’s sons and by Raju Sakya (b. 1975). A grandnephew of Mana Jyoti, the latter is one of the most promising artists in Siddhi Raja’s workshop, where he has been working since mid-1995, after he had started waxmodelling under the guidance of his father, Sapta Ratna, in 1990. Siddhi Raja Sakya (b. 4th March 1924), began wax modelling on his own in 1933, when he was already engaged in the traditional family occupation of pot-casting, Newar bronze and brass kitchen-ware being traditionally made by the lost-wax process. During that period he fashioned about 25 Brahmanical statues in clay, associating with a painter, Tari Citrakara, who painted his images. One year later, in spite of his young age, he collaborated in the renovation of the temple of Mahabodhi in Lalitpur, after its tower had been destroyed by the earthquake in 1934, assisting two older generations of great Newar sculptors—including Shen Aju, Jog Mana
132 THE TIBET JOURNAL Sakya (1901-1978), Pañca Jyoti Sakya and Mana Jyoti Sakya—in modelling the scores of clay images covering its outer surface. Unhappy with his progress in sculpting, Siddhi Raja requested and obtained Mana Jyoti’s tuition in the early 1950s. He spent three years in the latter’s workshop and during that period, together with his elder brother Bodhi Raja, he made a half-ton bronze bell for the courtyard of the temple of Guhyesvari at the foot of Mrigasthali hill upstream Pasupatinatha, along the left bank of the river Bagmati. In 1954 he started working for Newar art dealers, with whom he established a relationship that was to last 15 years. After the interlude of a tour to India, Siddhi Raja Sakya resumed his activity and in the 1960s fashioned a number of icons to be found in various private shrines, including his own. A real turn in his life occurred in 1966, when he met the already mentioned ’Brug pa bKa’ brgyud bla ma Slob dpon Tshe chu, who became his patron as well as his guru, and taught him a great deal about the Indo-Tibetan iconography of the Buddhist pantheon. Among the first orders that he received by way of Slob dpon Tshe chu, mention should be made of a 20-cm-high elevenheaded Avalokitesvara, a set of 21 statues of Tara (the central image measuring 91 cm and the others 46 cm in height) and a 122-cm-high yogin, which were presented to the royal family of Bhutan. The latter must have been impressed, for in 1968 he commissioned Siddhi Raja to fashion a set of 21 images of Tara, averaging 20 cm in height. Around 1970 the Newar sculptor made the triad of Tsong kha pa (91 cm in height), rGyal tshab and mKhas grub (both measuring 61 cm in height) for a dGe lugs pa lama, “Janthu” Rin po che. About that time he fashioned various images for the royal family of Nepal, including a silver image of Siva and Parvati for the coronation of King Birendra—who succeeded his father in 1972—and a Himalayan landscape to be presented to Queen Elizabeth II. Between 1971 and 1973, for a period of about two years and eight months, Siddhi Raja taught sculpture to two Bhutanese monks in Lalitpur, until they had to return home for the coronation of ’Jigs med seng ge dbang phyug, the fourth hereditary king of Bhutan, on the 2nd June 1974. On that occasion he presented his pupils with six of his sets of moulds and the king with a traditional Newar bell. Siddhi Raja’s Bhutanese pupils invited their master to accompany them to Bhutan and the latter accepted their invitation, spending one month and a half in the capital, Thim phu. During the same period the Newar artist was commissioned to make four sets of 21 images of the goddess Tara for the royal family of Bhutan: three of 20-cm-high figures and one of 46-cm-high figures. There are many of Siddhi Raja’s sculptures in Bhutan, though none was produced during his stay there: they were all fashioned in Lalitpur after being commissioned through Slob dpon Tshe chu, his guru and the Bhutanese chargé d’affaires in Nepal. During the same period, Siddhi Raja received an important order from the Nepalese royal family: a set of 28 very fine gilded brass deities belonging to the Hindu pantheon, ranging between 13 and 46 cm in height, to be placed on a torana in their main royal shrine at Hanuman Dhoka, the ancient royal palace in Kathmandu; apparently the statues may be seen only during the first nine days of the Dasain festival. For that particular set, official pandits provided the artist with a text to be used as iconographic reference; other texts were also given to the sculptor by Mana Jyoti Sakya, but—like all other major traditional artists—Siddhi Raja had by then fully memorized the iconography and iconometry of both Buddhist and Brahmanical deities.
NEWAR SCULPTORS AND TIBETAN PATRONS…
In 1974 the Newar sculptor made a 20-cm-high brass image of Amitayus and asked Slob dpon Tshe chu to offer it as his own personal present to the 14th Dalai Lama, from whom he received a letter of thanks. In 1975 Siddhi Raja fashioned one of his masterpieces, a 44-cm-high gilded brass statue of Balakaumari riding a peacock, to replace the main idol stolen earlier in the year from the temple of Balakaumari—one of the many Newar shrines exposed to the robberies commissioned by unscrupulous dealers to satisfy the demand of Western art collecting—then in the outskirts of Lalitpur and now part of the north-eastern sector of the town. The mid-1970s were a particularly prolific period for Siddhi Raja. From around 1975 the artist started receiving important orders for large numbers of statues of different sizes for the Tibetan monasteries which have been built both in the Nepal Valley—especially in the Bodhnatha and Svayambhu areas—and elsewhere by important religious masters such as U rgyan sPrul sku Rin po che, the latter’s son Chos kyi Nyi ma Rin po che and Chos gling Rin po che: images of Sakyamuni measuring from 46 to 122 cm in height, of Vajrasattva, of Guru Rin po che and of Tara, and also a set of the eight great bodhisattva figures to be sent to Taiwan, as well as 200 sets portraying the triad of Tsong kha pa (30 cm in height), rGyal tshab and mKhas grub (both measuring 20 cm in height) for the Bucher-Buchner collection in Germany. Siddhi Raja’s clients included two important spiritual leaders of the Sa skya pa religious order: Khra ’brug Rin po che, for whom in 1978 the Newar artist fashioned a statue of Akrobhya and a portrait of Guru Rin po che (both measuring 152 cm in height) to be sent to a Sa skya pa monastery in Karnataka (possibly brTse chen Chos ’khor Gling, founded at Bylakuppe perhaps in 1964-1965, or else Chos sgar brTse chen mDo sngags Chos gling, established at Mundgod in 1973-1974) as well as a set of twenty-one 20-cm-high brass images of the goddess Tara; and Khra rigs Rin po che, the spiritual leader of the Ngor pa Sa skya pa monastery of brTse chen bShad sgrub Gling, built at Bodhnatha in 1969 and locally known as Sa skya dGon pa, extended in 1970 and 1979/1982.27 For that monastery, around 1980, Siddhi Raja made a large number of statues of various subjects and sizes, including a 46-cm-high yogini, as well as sets of images of Sakyamuni and of the goddess Tara; the statues belonging to those two sets, cast in brass and measuring 36 cm in height, are kept respectively on the upper and lower shelves along the back wall of the bKa’ ’gyur temple built just outside the assembly hall. About the same period the artist fashioned a large number of statues of different sizes for Zla bzang Rin po che, the founder of the Karma bKa’ brgyud pa monastery of Dril yag E wam dPal ris bkra shis mi ’gyur, built at Bodhnatha in 198328 and renovated in 1988: a 183-cm-high Sakyamuni, as well as images of Amitayus, Vajradhara, Vajrasattva, Mañjusri, Tara and Guru Rin po che, all measuring 91 cm in height. These statues are encased together with other images—including those of Kurukulla and of lamas of the Karma pa lineages (Fig.5)—in various rows of niches behind the central statue of Sakyamuni, against the northern wall of the assembly hall of the monastery. In the early 1980s Siddhi Raja also made a number of different images for Bya bral Rin po che, a Khams pa religious leader patronised by the queen of Bhutan and then residing at a hermitage near the rNying ma pa monastery of Yang le shod, founded in 1970 at Pharping, Nepal Valley.29 Those statues include Buddhas, Guru Rin po che and a set of 21 images of the goddess Tara.
134 THE TIBET JOURNAL Around 1985 the Newar sculptor fashioned a number of statues for the bKa’ rnying ris med monastery of dPal nges don ’od gsal gling, raised in 1984 in a splendid position on a hill west of Svayambhu: a 122-cm-high brass Sakyamuni, placed in a central position along the back wall of the main assembly hall; a 56-cm-high brass Sakyamuni to the Tibetan right (left for the beholder) of the main image and a 56-cmhigh gilded copper Maitreya to its left; a 61-cm-high Vajrasattva and a 25-cm-high Vajradhara encased in the niches above the main image of Sakyamuni; two 46-cmhigh parcel-gilt copper images Tara and a 36-cm-high parcel-gilt copper Guru Rin po che, as well as three sets of the eight manifestations of Guru Rin po che. During the mid-1980s Siddhi Raja also made a 36-cm-high image of Guru Rin po che ordered by bDud ’joms Rin po che according to the latter’s special design, as well as a large number of images of Gu ru Rin po che and of other subjects in different sizes for the same rNying ma pa master. In the same span of years Siddhi Raja fashioned a 152-cm-high portrait of the 16th Karma pa for a monastery in sMos thang, Nepal, and large number of different images of various sizes for Grangs sku Rin po che, the spiritual leader of the ’Brug pa bKa’ brgyud pa monastery of Stag mo lus sbyin, founded in 1976 and completed in 197730 at Namo Buddha (30 km south-east of Kathmandu), as well as a 183-cmhigh Sakyamuni and a 152-cm-high Mañjusri for a bKa’ brgyud pa monastery in Gangtok (Sikkim). He also made several large statues for Tibetan monasteries in Karnataka: a 152-cm-high Sakyamuni, a 61-cm-high Vajrasattva and images of the goddess Tara measuring 46 cm in height, as well as 15 protectors of the doctrine, one measuring 122 cm and the others 61 cm in height. Furthermore, in the mid-1980s, he fashioned the 152-cm-high statue of Sakyamuni kept in the Santi Stupa at the holy Buddhist site of Rajgir, India, and presented the Japanese Fuji Guru with a 20cm-high image of the Buddha. In the late 1980s or early 1990s the Newar sculptor made a series of portraits of Sa skya pa lamas for the main Sa skya pa monastery of Rajpur, the seat of the 41st Sa skya Khri ’dzin at Dehradun, in India, as well as a set of 21 images of the goddess Tara measuring 46 cm in height for the monastery of Sa skya, in south-western Tibet. For the latter monastery, around 1990, he fashioned a 122-cm-high statue of Guru Rin po che, a 66-cm-high image of bodhisattva and twenty-two 46-cm-high statues of the goddess Tara: Newar sculptors have started to work again for monasteries in Tibet proper, as they had done from the first half of the seventh century until 1959; in fact statuettes made by Newar sculptors have been purchased in Lalitpur for or by Tibetans residing in Tibet since the fall of Gang of Four in China. About 1989 Siddhi Raja also fashioned a 122-cm-high image of Guru Rin po che, a 122-cm-high statue of the goddess Tara with twenty 46-cm-high images of the same subject in Newar style, as well as statues of the eight great bodhisattva ordered by one dPal-mo, a follower of Bya bral Rin po che, to comply with the latter’s recommendation. In the early 1990s Siddhi Raja made a number of different statues in various sizes, including a 152-cm-high image of Lama Ye shes with his consort and a 122-cm-high eleven-headed and one-thousand-armed manifestation of Avalokitesvara for a monastery in sMon thang. During the same years, he fashioned statues of Sakyamuni and Guru Rin po che, 66-cm-high bodhisattva images and a set of 21 statues of the goddess Tara measuring 46 cm in height for the private shrine of a lama in
NEWAR SCULPTORS AND TIBETAN PATRONS…
Bodhnatha, as well as a number of figures of different subjects and various sizes for bSod nams bla ma’s “Dring-king Gayok Ratna Sri Dharma Association” (a religious centre connected with Ladakh) at Jorpathi, near Bodhnatha; the latter order included statues of Sakyamuni and Ratnasri, 46-cm-high portrait of Guru Rin po che as well as images of the goddess Tara. In the early 1990s the artist also made two fine 74-cm-high copper alloy images, one of Vajrasattva and the other of Mañjusri, now belonging to Maitri Ratna Sakya’s private collection (on Maitri Ratna see below, in the section devoted to his father, Samgha Ratna Sakya). Around 1993 the Newar artist fashioned the images of Sariputra and Maudgalyayana to be placed in the main shrine of the Rudravarna Mahavihara, the chief monastery in the area where he lives; both statues, measuring 107 cm in height, were cast in copper and gilded. During the mid-1990s Siddhi Raja received an important order from Zang zang Rin po che for the newly-built rNying ma pa monastery of lHun grub Chos ’khor Gling, which was completed on the mountain slope behind Budhanilkantha, Nepal Valley, in 1999 and is presently guided by ’Khrul zhig Rin po che. The Newar artist was commissioned to fashion a number of different images of various sizes, most of which are found in the main assembly hall of the monastery: two 91-cm-high images, one of Avalokitesvara and the other of Manjusri, encased in niches respectively west and east of a 132-cm-high statue of Guru Rin po che made by Rajes Kuma (see below), along the eastern section of the north wall in the main assembly hall; two 91-cm-high images, one of the Buddha and the other of Vajrasattva, above the same statue; three 91-cm-high images, portraying Amitayus, Sita Tara and Vajradhara, placed respectively west, east and above a 132-cm-high statue of Vajrasattva made by Rajes Kuma and encased in the western section of the same wall; and ten 46-cm-high images of various subjects placed vertically in the niches at the sides of the main statue, a 183-cm-high gilded copper Sakyamuni made by Mohan Sakya (see below). Zang zang Rin po che also commissioned Siddhi Raja to make statues of Guru Rin po che and of sMan bla—the “Medicine Buddha”—as well as a set of 21 images of the goddess Tara. The latter measure 46 cm in height—except for the central figure, measuring 91 cm—and are kept in the Rin po che’s private chapel in the monastery. All the statues made by Siddhi Raja for this monastery were cast in copper and gilded. In the same span of years Siddhi Raja fashioned 65 more portraits of Sa skya pa lamas, two images of Mahakala—one measuring 91 cm and the other 61 cm in height—and a 61 cm-high-statue of the “Glorious Goddess” Remati for the Sa skya pa monastery of Rajpur, at Dehradun,31 as well as a 183-cm-high image of Maitreya for a Tibetan monastery in Karnataka. He also made a number of images belonging to the Indo-Tibetan Buddhist pantheon for Peter K. K. Lee’s monastery in Hong Kong: three 152-cm-high statues of Sakyamuni; the triad of Guru Rin po che (measuring 152 cm in height), Mandarava and Ye shes mtsho rgyal (each measuring 132 cm in height); another triad of the same subject, with the main figure measuring 91 cm in height and his consorts 51 cm each; 15 more portraits of Guru Rin po che, five of which measure 51 cm and ten measure 36 cm in height; a 122-cm-high image of the goddess Tara; and a 61-cm-high-statue of Sri Remati. In the mid-1990s he also fashioned a 36-cm-high image of Tara and three 20-cm-high statuettes of Vajrapani
136 THE TIBET JOURNAL for Oliver Stone. Apparently during the same period he made also the main image of Sakyamuni, measuring 152 cm in height, for the main altar in the assembly hall of the Karma bKa’ brgyud pa monastery of Karma legs bshad gling, built around 1996 to the west of Svayambhu hill. In 1998 Siddhi Raja presented his guru, Tshe chu Rin po che, with a 91-cm-high gilded copper statue of Guru Rin po che, which was placed on the main altar in the assembly hall of Sangs rgyas Chos gling, the monastery the latter had founded at Kindol. At the time of my visit there, on the 18th December 2000, that flourishing institution was managed by sKal bzang (Slob dpon Tshe chu’s faithful assistant) and counted 70 Nepalese monks—mostly Tamang, but also Shar pa, Newar and even Gorkha; a separate nunnery is attached to the monastic compound. About the same year Tshe chu Rin po che commissioned Siddhi Raja to make a 122-cm-high image of the goddess Tara, sitting on a water-lily supposedly fashioned in “Mongolian style”; the statue, cast in copper and gilded, is encased in a niche on the main altar in the same assembly hall. During the same year the rNying ma pa master Thugs che Rin po che commissioned the Newar artist to fashion a 20-cm-high statuette of Amitayus to present the 14th Dalai Lama with on the occasion of the latter’s birthday in 1998. For that occasion Siddhi Raja also made a 46-cm-high statue of the same subject and travelled to Dharamsala with his son and pupil, Nhuchhe Ratna (b. 1970), to present the Dalai Lama personally with it. For the birthday of the Dalai Lama the following year ’Khrul zhig Rin po che asked Siddhi Raja to make a number of images to present the former with, including a 122-cm-high statue of the goddess Tara and a number of 20-cm-high images of Sakyamuni and of the long-life triad (as many as 125 statuettes) of Amitayus, Urniravijaya and Tara. During the following year the Newar artist worked on four important orders: a 91-cm-high statue of Guru Rin po che for the Queen Mother of Bhutan; the triad of Sakyamuni (168 cm in height), Sariputra and Maudgalyayana (each measuring 91 cm in height) for a Tibetan monastery in India; 65 portraits of Karma bKa’ brgyud pa lamas; and an important order for a monastery in Ladakh. When I visited Siddhi Raja’s workshop in December 2000, the last two orders had not been completed and the master (Fig.6) was extremely busy working with half a dozen pupils on the latter, which included a number of different images of various sizes, such as a 91-cm-high Sakyamuni, a 61-cm-high Tara with 20 images of the same goddess measuring 36 cm in height, Guru Rin po che with 24 of his 25 disciples, the eight manifestations of Guru Rin po che, the four great guardian kings of the directions and so forth. Siddhi Raja’s clients range from the royal families of Bhutan and Nepal to the highest Tibetan lamas. Statues of his are found not only in the temples and monasteries of Nepal, Bhutan, India, Tibet and Japan, but also in the private shrines of the Dalai Lama and other high-ranking lamas, and even in collections and museums in the West. A 20-cm-high copper statuette made by Siddhi Raja around 1970 (and sometimes copied by less capable sculptors) representing the dancing skeleton, Citipati, is kept in the Ethnographic Museum in Geneva, where it was labelled as “Tibet, 18th-19th century.”32 Siddhi Raja’s life not only represents the history of a personal success, but also affords evidence for a revival in the production of Buddhist statuary in the Nepal Valley and for the ever-growing importance of the role played by Newar artists in providing Tibetan monasteries with images.
NEWAR SCULPTORS AND TIBETAN PATRONS…
SAMGHA RATNA SAKYA A relative of Siddhi Raja Sakya, Saogha Ratna Sakya (1932-1995) was also born in a family of artists in Uku Baha and he learned his craft from his father, a goldsmith and chaser who occasionally produced repoussé work. In 1956 Saogha Ratna went to Lhasa carry out his trade there, spending a couple of years in the Bar bskor area. After his return to Lalitpur, in 1958, he continued his activity as a goldsmith, but for a short period: in 1959 he started to work as a chaser in Siddhi Raja’s workshop. In that year he also got married. Six or seven years later, about 1966, he began to work on his own and later (perhaps around 1968) he extended his activity from chasing statues to casting them: he purchased wax images from the leading artists in Lalitpur (such as Kalu Kuma) cast them in copper and after chasing them or having them chased, he marketed them. Saogha Ratna was one of the first (if not actually the first) 20th-century artist who resumed the traditional use of copper in casting instead of brass, which, because of the advantage of having a lower melting point than copper, had largely replaced the latter in the course of time. In that way copper has regained the favour it had enjoyed among Newar sculptors in the production of statues during the best periods of the Malla dynasties. Copper is particularly suitable for fine and deep chasing, as well as for the traditional mercurygilding technique. To compensate for the excessive softness of copper, Saogha Ratna cast images in an alloy made up of about 90 percent copper and 10 percent brass, which has been adopted by most Newar artists. After starting to market statues fashioned by other artists, Saogha Ratna felt the need to provide them with new iconographic references to produce new images. In the beginning the models were Tibetan statues that were brought to him for restoration; but from the 1970s onwards he found more inspiration in Western books and catalogues on Tibetan and Himalayan art. By advising Newar sculptors on iconographic matters and by bringing their attention to images produced in Tibet and in the Nepal Valley (mostly during the Malla dynasties) though found in Western collections, Saogha Ratna somehow reappropriated Tibetan and Newar art works which had been lost to their original cultural environment and contributed to extend the Newar artists’ scope, encouraging them in particular to revisit the idiom of the Malla period that had influenced Tibetan art and is still appreciated by Tibetan clients. Also Kalu Kuma, who had by then started to specialize in fashioning wrathful deities, benefited from his advice. Indeed Saogha Ratna often determined the style in which images—whether meant for the Western art market or for Tibetan clients—were produced in the 1970s and even later. Thus he played an important role in shaping the present production of Newar images in terms of both style and material. Saogha Ratna’s son, Maitri Ratna Sakya (b. 1960) has perfected his father’s role since he started dealing in Buddhist art, around 1978-1979: a real aesthete, he commissions young talented artists (such as Mohan Sakya) with the production of fine images, providing new iconographic sources, checking again and again that the latter are followed correctly, and requiring the sculptors to improve or redo the job if he deems it necessary. He also controls the casting and the chasing, two crucially important phases in the production of a statue, just as his father did. In 2000 Maitri Ratna Sakya and his brother opened an art gallery specializing in the sale of fine metal Buddhist images in the main square of Lalitpur;33 statues produced by Newar artists are finding new markets in Buddhist Asian countries— where Buddhist images are appreciated not just as collection items, but as objects
138 THE TIBET JOURNAL of worship (and among a few enlightened Western collectors, who have understood that “originality”) in the accepted meaning of the word in post-Renaissance Europe—cannot be a requisite in an art in which copying has always been accepted and even encouraged. The items produced under Maitri Ratna Sakya’s supervision include important ritual objects, such as the 115-cm-long vajra-cross cast in 1999 in the copper and brass alloy mentioned above (Fig.7), as well as Hindu images, such as a fine 44-cmhigh gilded copper statue of Virupa fashioned in 1998 by Rajan Sakya (b. 2nd September 1972). BHIMA SAKYA Bhima Sakya is another artist who, like Saogha Ratna Sakya, went to Tibet to exert his trade as jeweller. He was born in 1932 in Lalitpur and, from the age of 11 (c. 1943), he learned chasing under the direction of his father, Deva Raja Sakya, who embossed and chased a life story of Sakyamuni on a copper plate which was then gilded and is kept in the Calcutta Museum. After three years of training, at the age of 15 (c. 1947), Bhima Sakya went to Tibet with his father to work as a silversmith in Deva Raja’s workshop in Lhasa, where they stayed for eight years, till about 1955; there he learned not only to fashion jewellery both in Tibetan and Khams pa style, but also to colour black-and-white photographs. Furthermore, following the example of some friends of his, he studied Buddhist doctrine at the monastery of ’Bras spungs for a year; but after his return to Nepal as a monk, he was attracted to Theravada Buddhism and was a Theravadin monk for four years. In 1959 Bhima Sakya went to Gangtok, Sikkim, where a cousin of his had a workshop, and worked for him, chasing gold and silver items. He learned to chase metal images, working for a year without wages. In particular, he chased a set of 16 copper statuettes of goddesses for a minister’s wife; the images were subsequently gilded. At the age of about 28, around 1960, he fashioned a golden ring as a souvenir for an artist, decorating it with the eight auspicious emblems of Buddhism painted in enamel upon it; he would have later extended that technique to metal images. During those three years Bhima Sakya worked not only in Gangtok, but also in Darjeeling, where he fashioned a ring with a dragon design (a kind of item that he continued to produce for ten years) to mount a stone given to him by a client from Bombay, and in Kalimpong, where he fashioned a ritual object called mandala in Tibetan texts— consisting in a set of ever-decreasing rings used to hold cereals to be offered for liturgical purposes—as well as the head of the Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in Western style. He continued to apply the latter to his repoussé work for about a year and fashioned the head of Burma’s Prime Minister (possibly U Nu), which he offered to the latter in Nepal, where he returned in 1962. When he was 32, in 1964, he chased a silver bust of king Mahendra and, on the occasion of the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Nepal, he fashioned a silver bust of her prince consort, Philip, which he offered to the royal couple. Later Bhima Sakya worked for the Industrial Development Workshop of Nepal, an experience that lasted only three months because of insufficient orders. After getting married, he started to fashion a special type of ring, decorated with two dragons and the figure of a god or goddess, for which he received an order of 1000 pieces, which he could not take up because he could not produce more than three a day.
NEWAR SCULPTORS AND TIBETAN PATRONS…
About 1968 Newar artists started to cast images again in copper rather than in brass and, because of the former’s high melting point, coal replaced charcoal as fuel in casting. Copper is easier to chase than brass and in 1969 Bhima Sakya turned to chasing statues, working on the 15-cm-high images fashioned by an artist living in Naga Baha, Lalitpur, and continuing that activity for two or three years. He used to complete one piece a day. He also chased statues made by the greatest Newar sculptors, including Bodhi Raja Sakya, Siddhi Raja Sakya, Nhuchhe Raja Sakya, “Babu” Kaji Vajracarya, Jagat Mana Sakya and Kalu Kuma, sometimes for Ian Alsop, for whom Bhima Sakya chased between fifty and sixty metal images. In particular he chased a statue of Sakyamuni made by Kalu Kuma and measuring between 152 and 183 cm, decorating it with silver inlay work representing the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism; and he chased a 61-cm-high copper image of the same subject made by Nhuchhe Raja and now found in Hong Kong. He remembers chasing also a 30-cm-high statue of the goddess Tara made by Jagat Mana Sakya for a Japanese client and decorated with enamel painting a kapala fashioned by the same artist for Ian Alsop. When he was 40, in 1972, Bhima Sakya embossed and chased a 46-cm-high copper image of the tutelary deity Samvara for a private shrine in Kathmandu. Two years later he decided to use also enamel paint to decorate metal images; he probably got that idea from Qing dynasty cloisonné work, including Buddhist images. Bhima Sakya regards himself as an innovator also in the field of copper-chasing, where he makes use of a deep-carving technique, and can easily recognize his own work. He states that he draws inspiration from the five elements, and decorates images especially with stylized clouds, waves, flames and so forth. He is also able to draw fine vegetable patterns in the Newar, Tibetan and Khams pa styles. Like many other Himalayan artists, he is able to work in different styles and on a variety of items, according to the demands of his clients; in particular he remembers having fashioned a gold necklace in Tibetan style and a silver box with tiny figures all around it. Among the work made by Bhima Sakya for Tibetan monasteries in the Nepal Valley mention should be made of the chasing of an eleven-headed and one-thousand-armed image of Avalokitesvara, housed in the already mentioned Dharmacakra monastery on Sarasvati hill, and of the embossing and chasing of a 91-cm-high stupa kept in the Rin po che’s private apartment at the already mentioned Maitreya monastery of Svayambhu; the stupa contains an image of the goddess Urniravijaya fashioned by Siddhi Raja Sakya. When I interviewed Bhima Sakya in December 2000, the artist was assisted by five pupils, who were busy embossing and chasing several images (cf. Fig.8), including a set of 108 copper plates reproducing as many manifestations of Avalokitesvara; for the iconography of that set he resorted to the drawings made by the great 20th century Newar painter, Siddhi Muni Sakya (b. 1932), who in January 1965 had painted the series of the 108 manifestations of Avalokitesvara—apparently on wood—for the monastery of Sveta Matsyendranatha in Kathmandu, to replace those painted by his father, Ananda Muni (c. 1902-1943).34 NHUCHHE RAJA SAKYA Nhuchhe Raja Sakya (b. 1933) is a member of Bodhi Raja and Siddhi Raja Sakya’s family; a self-taught sculptor, he entered the profession seriously at the age of 21, around 1954. Metal images of his are found in Tibetan monasteries, not only in the
140 THE TIBET JOURNAL Nepal Valley—at Bodhnatha, Namo Buddha, Pharping and in the Svayambhu area— but also in India, Tibet and even Mongolia. The earliest commission he received for a Tibetan monastery was probably the order for a gilded brass triad (c. 1967) of Tsong kha pa (76 cm in height) with his two disciples (both measuring 41 cm in height), rGyal tshab and mKhas grub,35 which are placed in a niche east of the central image in the main shrine along the northern wall of the assembly hall in dGa’ ldan Byams mgon mDo sngags bShad sgrub Thor ’dod Gling, the dGe lugs pa monastery devoted to Maitreya at Svayambhu. By the early 1970s much of Nhuchhe Raja’s production was also aimed at satisfying the demand of the fine arts market: mention has been made of his copper Acala in a Newar shop in Gangtok. A silver-inlaid specimen of the latter is part of the Aniko Collection loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, together with one of the most outstanding statues fashioned by the artist during that period: a 55-cm-high silver-inlaid copper Caturarana Virnu modelled in several parts around 1971 after the iconography provided by the publication of such images as the four-headed eighth century Kashmirian copper-alloy statue from the Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection—now in the Los Angeles Museum of Art—or as the ninth century brass image from the Lakrminarayana temple in Chamba town, which went on display to New Delhi in 1971.36 That was by no means the only instance of a statue modelled by a Newar sculptor after an image published in an art book or catalogue, but it was one of the few in which such a statue was in turn copied by less capable artists and sold in artificially-aged specimens.37 Around the same period Nhuchhe Raja started receiving important orders for the newly-built Tibetan monasteries in India. Outstanding statues fashioned by the artist are found in the assembly halls of dGe lugs pa temples and monastic colleges in the Tibetan settlements in Karnataka, for which Nhuchhe Raja fashioned several gilded brass images, some of which were published as anonymous pieces: a 183cm-high image of Maitreya, made around 1971 for the assembly hall of the Shar rtse college in the dGe lugs pa monastery of dGa’ ldan, at Mundgod;38 a 122-cm-high statue of Maitreya and a 102-cm-high portrait of mKhas grub rje, both fashioned by 1978 for the assembly hall of the Se ra byes college at Bylakuppe;39 and perhaps the 135-cm-high gilded metal Maitreya found in the assembly hall of the Byang rtse college, in the same monastery.40 In 1985 the artist made a 91-cm-high brass statue of Samvara which had been commissioned by one sTobs rgyal (a middleman) apparently for a monastery in Tibet. About 1992 Nhuchhe Raja fashioned a 76-cm-high gilded copper portrait of Yongs ’dzin Ye shes rGyal mtshan, a teacher of the Eighth Dalai Lama, kept in the shrine along the eastern wall of the assembly hall in the earliest religious foundation established at Bodhnatha in the 20th century: the dGe lugs pa monastery of sKyid grong bSam gtan Gling, originally founded in 1954 by Sog po Rin po che, a Mongolian lama;41 the building was subsequently extended, and completely renovated and enlarged in 1996. Around 1993 Nhuchhe Raja fashioned a 122-cm-high image of the Buddha for a Theravada monastery (the Pugata Mahavihara) near Lumbini, on the way to Bhairava. In 1994 a Tibetan monk commissioned him to fashion an 81-cm-high copper portrait of the 14th Dalai Lama with Mañjusri and Tsong kha pa’s attributes, the sword and the book, providing him with a picture of bsTan ’dzin rGya mtsho’s head. During the same year Nhuchhe Raja was requested by the Tibet Office in Kathmandu to make
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a silver long-life triad to present the Dalai Lama with in Dharamsala: a 56-cm-high statue of the Buddha Amitayus with the images of the goddesses Sita Tara and Urniravijaya, both measuring 46 cm in height. The same set, but in copper, was ordered for a Tibetan monastery in India by a Tibetan lay middleman from Svayambhu, who had seen Nhuchhe Raja’s triad in Dharamsala: the artist was still working on that commission when I last interviewed him on the 7th December 2000 and he expected to have the images cast three months later. In 1998 he made a 152cm-high copper portrait of Atisa (from the picture of another image) for the dGe lugs pa monastery of Kopan, founded in 1972 north of Bodhnatha; the statue was subsequently gilded. In 1994 the foremost Bon po master bsTan ’dzin rnam dag founded the Tibetan monastery of Khri brtan Nor bu rTse, in the Ichangu Narayana area west of Svayambhu (not far from the Nagarjuna hill), and Nhuchhe Raja was requested to make a few images—such as those of the great sage Dran pa nam mkha’ and of the goddess Shes rab byang ma, measuring 22 cm in height—for the abbot’s private shrine room, as well as a pair of 61.5-cm-high copper statues of Khri gtsug rGyal ba—namely the great teacher gShen rab, the founder of the Bon religion, in his guise of king—(Fig.9) for the main shrine in the assembly hall, which was still being decorated when I visited the monastery on the 18th December 2000. The latter images—parcel-gilt and antique-painted—had not been installed yet. The works that Nhuchhe Raja remembers with greatest satisfaction include a statue of Maitreya that he made for a Tibetan monastery in India and a 13-cm-high gold portrait of Tsong kha pa which he fashioned in 1994 for a Tibetan lama, but is now in Mongolia. Of the important images made by Nhuchhe Raja in 1999 mention should be made of a 132-cm-high copper Guru Rin po che for a monastery in Tibet and of the 111-cm-high gilded copper Sakyamuni enshrined in one of the stupas rising along the circumambulation wall surrounding the foot of Svayambhu hill, in the eastern-north-eastern section of the same. KALU KUMA One of the most interesting Newar artists of the 20th century is Kalu Kuma42 Dachha Prajapati Thaku (b. 1933), a contemporary of Nhuchhe Raja Sakya. Kalu started modelling figures in clay during his childhood, but his father, a farmer, did not foster that inclination. In 1955, Kalu suffered from an illness that kept him housebound for six months, during which he eased his boredom by spending much of his time modelling clay images. That incident paved the way to his future profession, but other occurrences convinced him to shift to wax-modelling and to start a career as a professional sculptor. One was the circumstance that he was requested by Tibetan refugee monks to restore metal images brought from Tibet. The other was the fact that, during that period, he dreamed of the wrathful deity Vajrabhairava (Tib. rDo rje ’jigs byed), identified by Newars with Yamantaka—known to them as “Megha Samvara” and to Nepali-speakers as Mahira Samvara, namely the “Buffalo” (headed) Samvara—and of the related bodhisattva Mañjusri, whose head is identified with Vajrabhairava’s yellow and peaceful upper face.43 Kalu related those dreams to the requests he had received of restoring ancient Buddhist images and perceived them as indications to pursue the career of a sculptor. Later he specialized in the production of the images of wrathful deities, whose largest and most outstanding specimens represent the deity that appeared in his
142 THE TIBET JOURNAL dreams: Vajrabhairava. Kalu’s visionary experiences should be understood in the context of his deep faith, and reflect the fact that artistic creation in a Buddhist environment is closely related to religious practice and meditation. A follower of Vajrayana Buddhism, Kalu gets up and takes a bath at 3 a. m. every morning, unconcerned by the temperature of the water; he then worships the tutelary deity Cakrasamvara, meditating upon it for about an hour. He strictly abides by traditional Newar Buddhist caste rules, including those forbidding the consumption of certain foods (such as chicken) and of barring people not belonging to the same caste from access to the home kitchen, some of which are specific to the Sakya caste, which he does not belong to; paradoxically, though in conformity with the official abolition of the caste system, members of the latter caste nowadays may neglect the very rules followed by Kalu, marrying people belonging to other castes (even Hindu ones), eating all sorts of food and allowing people not belonging to their caste into their family kitchens. In 1961 Kalu paid several visits to Mana Jyoti’s workshop to watch him work, but it was not until 1965 that he began sculpting professionally. By 1968 he had evolved a personal style, modelling preferably (though not exclusively) the images of wrathful deities. Alsop and Charlton have written that his images “tend to be somewhat stiff and static,”44 which may have been the case in some statues produced in the 1960s and 1970s, but the remark cannot apply to the subsequent production. In fact it may be argued the style adopted by Kalu in the manufacture of wrathful deities has infused new vitality into Newar sculpture, otherwise represented at its best by very graceful images echoing the idiom in vogue under the Malla dynasties and suiting the Tibetan taste. Kalu received the first important Tibetan commission in the early 1970s, when he fashioned a 107-cm-high statue of dPal ldan lha mo Remati—the wrathful goddess protecting Lhasa—for the 14th Dalai Lama; the image was cast in copper and gilded before being sent to Dharamsala. A few years later he fashioned a 76-cm-high statue of Vajrayogini for the main shrine in the assembly hall of the already mentioned dGe lugs pa monastery of dGa’ ldan Byams mgon mDo sngags bShad sgrub Thar ’dod Gling, devoted to Maitreya; also that statue was cast in copper and gilded. In the summer of 1978 the artist was requested to model a 36-cm-high image of four-armed Bhairava to replace an idol stolen at the already mentioned shrine of Balakaumari.45 He completed the wax image between the 23rd August and the 4th September of that year. During the same period, he modelled two 9-cm-high bronze statuettes, one of Radha and the other of Rukmini, to replace the images of Kprna’s two main consorts stolen from a shrine devoted to that god at Sankhamul, Lalitpur. Around the same year the Newar artist made the 76-cm-high statue of the bodhisattva Vajrapani placed just above his Vajrayogini in the shrine of the assembly hall in the monastery of dGa’ ldan Byams mgon mDo sngags bShad sgrub Thar ’dod Gling. In 1985 he received the “best award” from the Department of Cottage and Village Industries (Handicrafts Promotion Centre) of Nepal. In the same year Kalu was commissioned to make a 107-cm-high statue of Vajrayogini, which was cast in copper and later presented by the client for consecration to a convent of dGe lug pa nuns from the Tibetan border area of sKyid grong, ’Phags shing sKyid grong Thugs rje Chos gling, built in 1993 west of Svayambhu hill; that image is presently housed in a temple above the assembly hall of the monastery. In 1986 he
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fashioned another 107-cm-high statue of dPal ldan lHa mo Remati (Fig.10) for Lama Gangs can’s teaching room in his private residence, Gangs can Bla brang Srid zhi’i ’Dod rgyur ’Khril ba, at Ca Bahi, between Kathmandu and Bodhnatha; the image was cast in copper and gilded. The following year the artist made the 45-cm-long brass vajra inscribed 1st Sravana 2044 (17th July 1987) placed on the stone vajradhatu mandala rising in front of the Mahabodhi temple in Lalitpur. In 1990 Kalu fashioned the statues for the three-dimensional mandala (blos blangs) devoted to Vajrabhairava housed in the dKyil ’khor lha khang of the dGe lugs pa monastery of gNya’ gnang bShad sgrub dGa’ ldan ’Phel rgyas Gling, established in 1970 east-north-east of Svayambhu hill. The central image housed in the “palace” at the centre of the wooden structure with glass panels protecting the mandala measures 24 cm, while the surrounding ones measure 13 cm in height; they were all cast in copper and gilded. About the same year Kalu made a copper statue of Vajrayogini for the shrine in the private residence of the Mongolian head lama, Guru Deva Rin po che, at Bodhnatha (Fig.11); the image measures about 101 cm in height, including the magic staff. In 1992 he fashioned a set of eight 20-cmhigh heads of the Mother Goddesses as well as those of Ganesa and Bhairava for the shrine of the Virnu Devi temple in the village of Thankot, 15 km west of Kathmandu. The heads were cast in brass and then placed symmetrically at the sides of the central image of the main goddess, with those of Bhairava and Ganesa at the far ends. Around the same year Kalu also fashioned two 76-cm-high statues for the shrine built along the northern wall of Lama Gangs can’s private teaching room at the Himalayan Healing Centre, not far from Bodhnatha: one—placed at the western end in the shrine—is a manifestation of the bodhisattva Amoghapasa and the other— at the eastern end of the same—portrays the goddess Kurukulla. In 1993 the artist made two 91-cm-high images of Vajrayogini, which were both cast in copper and gilded: one for Lama Gangs can’s private apartment in the already mentioned Gangs can Bla brang Srid zhi’i ’Dod rgyur ’Khril ba; and the other for the assembly hall of the Ngor pa Sa skya pa monastery of Khra rigs Rin po che at Bodhnatha. In 1994 he fashioned a set of gilded copper images for a Vajrabhairava mandala, this time for Lama Gangs can’s teaching room in the Himalayan Healing Centre near Bodhnatha. There a 137-cm-high statue of Vajrabhairava is housed in a pagoda structure with panes making up the deity’s palace; another image of the same god, measuring 24 cm in height, together with those of his 12 attendants—each measuring 13 cm in height—is placed in the niches of its roof. In 1995 Kalu fashioned an identical set for the monastery of Kopan. During the same year he received the “best artist’s” award in metalcraft from the Committee of the Cottage and Village Industries of Nepal. In 1996 the Newar artist made a 30-cmhigh brass statue of Dhananantari Varahi together with a set of twelve 8-cm-high faces to go with it for the shrine of Dhanantari in Lalitpur, between Patan Gate and the Bagmati river. During the same year Kalu fashioned an 81-cm-high copper statue of Vajrayogini—identical to the one he had already made for the dGe lugs pa nunnery west of Svayambhu—for the assembly hall of another dGe lugs pa monastery connected with sKyid grong bSam gtan Gling, at Bodhnatha; the image is placed at the northern end of the shrine. At the southern end of the shrine there is an image of six-armed Mahakala in the same material and size, made by the artist in 1997; both statues were gilded.
144 THE TIBET JOURNAL In 1998 Kalu made a 290-cm-high copper statue of Vajrabhairava for the festival of Lalitpur and another image of the same subject—measuring 125 cm in height and beautifully gilded—for Maitri Ratna Sakya, in whose art gallery I could admire it in December 2000. Kalu also fashioned several images of wrathful deities for the already mentioned Byang rtse college in the dGe lugs pa monastery of dGa’ ldan, in Mundgod; the statues were delivered in Karnataka in June 2000. During the same year the artist made another copper image of Vajrayogini for the shrine of Guru Deva Rin po che’s house at Bodhnatha; the image is identical to the one he had fashioned ten years earlier. At the time of my last interviews, in December 2000, the artist was modelling the wax parts of a 213-cm-high image of dPal ldan lHa mo Remati and a clay model for a 320-cm-high—including the lotus base and backplate—statue of “White” Manjusri, which had been ordered by the same Byang rtse college: from that model he was to obtain the molds to fashion the image in wax and then cast it. Kalu Kuma’s skills have been appreciated by the 14th Dalai Lama, who has told other lamas of the Newar artist’s ability at making images not only of dPal ldan lHa mo Remati—of which he has a specimen in Dharamsala—but also of Vajrabhairava and other tantric deities. A successful sculptor whose works have sometimes been imitated,46 Kalu Kuma has lost neither his innate kindness nor his deep Buddhist faith. His life story represents the social ascent of a farmer’s son who answered the call of art and who, through hard work, rose to the Olympus of god-making artists, a traditional preserve of the Sakya caste. The high status achieved by Kalu’s family in a Sakya-dominated artistic environment has been strengthened by two of the Newar artist’s six sons: Rajes and Rakes. The former, a brilliant sculptor who has set up the most important casting facilities in Lalitpur, will be dealt below. The latter was a monk in a Theravada monastery in Lalitpur for several years and has attended international Buddhist conferences abroad in his capacity as Nepalese representative of that tradition: paradoxically, although the Sakya caste claims to represent Buddhist monkhood by hereditary right, its members very seldom become full-time monks, while Newar Buddhists not belonging to the Sakya hereditary group have to join Theravada or Tibetan monasteries in order to follow their religious vocation. Rakes manages the family business, and once a week goes to Bodhnatha to collect orders and payments for images commissioned to his father and brother: some of their statues reach Tibetan monasteries after being sold through local shops. SCULPTORS BORN IN THE 1940S The descendant of a family of pot-casters, Jagat Mana Sakya (b. 1940) began sculpting at the age of 14, acquiring his knowledge of wax-modelling and metallurgy from his father: as in the case of Bodhi Raja Sakya and other major artists, he did not receive a formal training. Jagat Mana’s artistic interests and approaches are varied: in 1958 he started drawing with the help of a Tibetan iconographic text borrowed from Mana Jyoti Sakya, from which he copied the iconometry; in 1956 he began to play tabla drums and continued to do so as an amateur; during three journeys to India he was able to devote himself to a favourite pastime of his, visiting museums, whose pieces have occasionally inspired his work; and between 1970 and 1973 he worked with a theatrical group in Lalitpur. In 1962, he was commissioned to fashion the rat standing opposite the shrine of Ganesa at Maru Hiti, on the southern side of
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the old Darbar Square in Kathmandu. There are many such rats accompanying their lord all over the Nepal Valley, but Jagat Mana’s treatment of the subject was original and charming. His rat, with a bell hanging from its neck, measures 63.5 cm from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail and 41 cm from the tip of the nose to the bottom of its inscribed single-lotus pedestal, which bears the date of the Vikrama year 2019 and measures 48 x 36 cm. In 1972 Mana Jyoti Sakya agreed to model a 274-cm-high statue of Siddhartha as a child—raising his left hand towards the sky and the right towards the earth at the time he declared he would become a Buddha—for the Japanese Buddhist master Fuji Guru, on condition that he would obtain Jagat Mana’s collaboration. The latter accepted: Mana Jyoti modelled the face and Jagat Mana fashioned the rest of the image using an 8-cm-high Japanese statuette as a model; the modelling of the wax took one month. After casting and chasing, the statue was sent to Japan. Jagat Mana then made a 213-cm-high gilded brass image of Siddhartha as a child for a Japanese monastery near Pokhara, which was demolished in 1973 because it had been built without permission; the image was taken to a Tibetan monastery at Matopani. After that, Jagat Mana worked with Nhuchhe Raja Sakya to restore the clay image of Sakyamuni in the main shrine of the Mahabodhi temple, in the main artists’ quarter of Lalitpur. In 1973 he was commissioned to fashion an 86-cm-high gilded brass statue of Sakyamuni for the anniversary of Buddha’s birthday, falling on the first full-moon day of Vaisakha (April-May); the image, bearing an inscription with the Newar year 1093, is housed in a shrine of its own among the temples in Darbar Square, Lalitpur, opposite the royal palace complex (Fig.12). In 1984-1985 Jagat Mana fashioned a gilded copper statue of the Buddha Dipamkara, measuring betwen 20 and 21 cm in height, which is shown once a year on the occasion of the festival of norã at Pim Baha, the name of a defunct monastery in the north-western sector of Lalitpur, where “occasional rituals are still performed” near the large stupa still rising there;47 the artist fashioned that statue basing himself upon an important and taller 17th-century image on the same subject kept in the Patan Museum of Lalitpur.48 That piece had already inspired him to fashion a 26cm-high copper image with garments decorated with an intricate and deep carving as well as silver inlay work by an outstanding chaser, Siddhi Raja Sakya (born c. 1934); a specimen of the latter statue, made in c. 1970, is part of Aniko Collection loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 1993-1994 Jagat Mana was commissioned to make a 247-cm-high image of the Buddha Vairocana for a temple in Japan. The statue was cast in copper and gilded; it weighs 1500 kgs. Its halo was embossed by Raja Kumara Sakya (see above). During the same period Jagat Mana made a 305-cm-high copper image of Siddhartha as a child for a monastery at Thaukhel, near Godavari, 15 km south-east of Kathmandu. Jagat Mana and his six sons occasionally fashion statues in clay and also produce images for the art market. In 1995-1996 they made the items illustrating the lost-wax process displayed in the showcases of the Patan Museum. Jagat Mana’s contacts with Japan brought about new commissions in the 1990s: at the time of our last interview, in December 2000, he told me that he had made between 30 and 40 statues for Japanese monasteries, which in fact meant a decrease in his output of images in Tibetan and Indian style, as well as a different stylistic approach to his themes. In 1998 he fashioned a 183-cm-high image of
146 THE TIBET JOURNAL Siddhartha as a child for the World Peace Pagoda built in Japanese style by Buddhists from Japan at Pokhara and measuring over 35 m in height; its 640-cm-high gilded copper spire as well as the four dharma wheels measuring 82 cm in diameter, placed at the corners of the turret below, were fashioned by Raja Kumara Sakya. During the same year Jagat Mana made various 213-cm-high gilded copper lokapala figures in Japanese style with the help of his sons, who told me that such figures had been recently “copied” by Chinese art dealers (however, it should be pointed out that the treatment of this—originally Indian—theme is traditionally Chinese all over the Far East, even in Tibet). In the family workshop, in December 2000, I was shown several 213-cm-high lokapala images in Japanese style, which Jagat Mana and his sons have also produced in a smaller size: 107 cm in height. The sons also work independently for clients from Japan and made a statue for a Japanese monastery at Makan. Naga Baha is the second main artistic centre in Lalitpur and its greatest living sculptor is probably “Babu” Kaji Vajracarya (b. 1942). The son of a tailor, he began his apprenticeship as a sculptor in 1960, being trained for about eight years by his uncles, Bodhi and Siddhi Raja Sakya. An avowed enemy of mass-produced statues for the tourist market, he prefers to fashion a limited amount of choice small-size images, generally portraying Buddhas, bodhisattvas, goddesses and Hindu gods with peaceful miens, in different materials: copper, brass and even silver. Although “Babu” Kaji enjoys a high reputation, his output is small because—unlike all the artists surveyed so far—he works alone and is unwilling to take on pupils who might not work up to his expectations; so he is not in a position to accept large commissions. It takes him from one to two months to complete a statue; but the quality of his craftsmanship is extremely fine and precise as may be gathered from a 16.5-cmhigh brass statuette of Tara fashioned in 1976 and purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum (Fig.13). Several statues by “Babu” Kaji are found in private shrines and one is housed in a Tibetan monastery; he generally receives orders from middlemen or dealers, but at the time of our last interview, on the 17th December 2000, he had been commissioned by a Tibetan monk living in Ladakh to fashion an image of Sakyamuni measuring between 76 and 81 cm, after the famous statue known as Jo bo and kept in the main temple of Lhasa. During my fieldwork in the 1970s I heard of another sculptor from Naga Baha, Bhuvana Sakya (b. 1956), who also worked alone, not only modelling and casting images, but also chasing, gilding and painting them, as well as mounting stones onto them. That artist is less known and appreciated than his cousin, Santa Kumara Sakya (b. on the 6th day of the ninth month of the Vikrama year 2004, corresponding to 1947 C. E.), a self-taught sculptor from Uku Baha, who shares Jagat Mana’s musical interests, participating as a musician in local festivals and ceremonies, where he plays the flute, harmonium and drum. Santa Kumara gained his knowledge of wax-modelling by visiting the sculptors’ workshops and watching other artists at work. In 1962 he broke with his family tradition of goldsmith’s art, in which both his father and grandfather had been trained, and set up a workshop of his own in order to model wax images. His statues are exported to various parts of the world, but—like most major Newar artists—Santa Kumara receives orders also from Tibetan monasteries, especially to fashion images of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara in his eleven-headed manifestation, in the production of which he
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has specialized and of which half a dozen gilded copper specimens will be mentioned below. In 1990 the artist fashioned a 76-cm-high a statue of Avalokitesvara in his elevenheaded manifestation and one-thousand-armed manifestation for the personal shrine of the abbot of a Tibetan monastery at Svayambhu, possibly the often mentioned dGe lugs pa foundation devoted to Maitreya. Three years later he made the same image for the shrine of the assembly hall on the first floor of the already mentioned monastery of Jatha Baha, at Lalitpur, where Mana Jyoti’s Guru Rin po che, Radakrari Avalokitesvara and Amitabha were already housed. Another image of identical subject, but measuring 112 cm in height, is kept in Lama Gang can’s private room at his residence in Ca Bahi. In 1995 Santa Kumara fashioned a 274-cm-high statue of the same subject for a Tibetan monastery in Taiwan and in 1998-1999 he made another image, which was taken to Lhasa: he was particularly pleased with the latter, because the Tibetan monks who had commissioned it were fully satisfied with the result. Again in 1999-2000, Santa Kumara fashioned a 198-cm-high image of identical subject, but following his client’s iconographic and iconometric specifications (Fig.14), for the altar of the assembly hall in the ris med monastery of Byang chen Chos grub Gling (Mahabodhi Dharmasadhana Dvipa), founded in 1995 at Chobar— 6 km south of Kathmandu—and still under construction at the time of my visit, on the 16th December 2000. Like most of the previous images, also this statue was partially painted after fire-gilding, in accordance with Tibetan custom; its nimbus was made in clay by another sculptor, perhaps one of the two Bhutanese artists— dKon mchog and Seng ge—who fashioned the two other main statues in clay on the altar of the same assembly hall. At the time of our last meetings, in December 2000, Santa Kumara was working on yet another image of eleven-headed Avalokitesvara, commissioned by a Japanese monastery; the statue, which was going to measure 457 cm in height, was being fashioned in about twenty-four different parts. The artist was satisfied with the improvements he had made and proud of having learned to produce larger and larger images by himself. Candra Bhai Sakya (b. 1949) lives at Shichahiti, also in the southern area of Lalitpur. He had a rather difficult life until 1981, working from 5 a. m. to 11 p. m. He lost his mother when he was still a child; between the age of 12 and 13 (1961-1962) he began to work as a chaser. Later he started modelling small images in wax without anybody’s tuition and subsequently perfected his skills working for nine years (1972-1981) in Bodhi Raja Sakya’s workshop; he now fashions statues ranging from 15 to 36 cm in height, following the instructions of his customers, mostly dealers. The softness and graciousness in the shaping of his images—as represented by a 37.5-cm-high gilded copper Vajrasattva fashioned in 1993-1994 and kept in his home (Fig.15 reflect the aesthetics of the late Malla period, and are reminiscent both of his late master and of “Babu” Kaji Vajracarya’s style, as may be gathered from a 15.2-cm-high statuette of Manjusri inscribed with the date of the Newar year 1106, corresponding to 1986 C.E.49 One of the images of which Candra Bhai is especially proud is a 25-cm-high gilded copper statue of the open-mouthed deity Malakuta (fashioned to be used as a censer), which he completed in March 2000, after one and a half month’s work. The output of this Newar artist is relatively limited since he does not have pupils apart from his son, Sacin (b. 1976), but of a fine quality.
148 THE TIBET JOURNAL SCULPTORS BORN IN THE 1950S AND 1960S One of the most representative Newar sculptors of the second half of the 20th century is Rajes Kuma (born on the 6th day of the seventh month of the Vikrama year 2011, that is in October 1954 C.E.),50 a promising and skilled artist already in the 1970s. The son of Kalu Kuma, he has built the largest casting facilities in Lalitpur and is able to produce very big statues (Fig.16) with the help of a team of pupils; also his wife helps him in modelling wax, while his father is present at casting. In 2000, under his father’s supervision and with the help of three of his younger brothers, he fashioned two 299-cm-high statues representing the bodhisattvas Maitreya and Mañjusri for the newly extended college of Byang rtse, in the dGe lugs pa monastery of dGa’ ldan, in Mundgod; the statues were cast in copper and consecrated in Karnataka the following year. Some of Rajes’s images are found in the Tibetan monasteries of the Nepal Valley; others (such as those fashioned in Japanese style) are exported as far as Japan. Around 1975 Rajes made a 122-cm-high gilded copper image of Vajrasattva for the already mentioned monastery of dGa’ ldan Byams mgon mDo sngags bShad sgrub Thar ’dod Gling, at Svayambhu; the statue is housed in the same section where his father’s Vajrayogini is placed, at the western end of the western shrine, along the northern wall of the main assembly hall. About 1980-1981 Rajes modelled two concrete images of Sakyamuni—one making the earth-touching gesture, the other displaying the teaching gesture—for the assembly hall of the Thai Theravada monastery at Kirtipur, Nepal Valley; it was his first and last attempt at working in that material. In 1999 Rajes fashioned a life-size copper portrait of the late Dashratha Chand, a hero of the 1950 revolution that brought the Gorkha royal house back to power; the statue, protected by a black varnish, was placed in the Dashratha stadium at Tripureshvara, Kathmandu. Rajes’s interest in realistic portraiture had already been foreshadowed by the bust of his paternal grandfather, which he had made in 1991; it was cast in copper, varnished in black paint and placed above the entrance to the artist’s own house at Shichahiti, Lalitpur. In 2000 Rajes fashioned two 132-cm-high gilded copper statues for the already mentioned rNying ma pa monastery of lHun grub Chos ’khor Gling, rising on the hill behind Budhanilkantha: a portrait of Padmasambhava, which is housed in the eastern section of the main shrine, along the northern wall of the assembly hall; and an image of Vajrasattva, which is kept in the western section of the same shrine. Not all Newar sculptors resort to metal as their medium: stones of various kind, wood and ivory are also used by experienced carvers. One of the most prominent families excelling at the use of such materials is that of Indra Raja Vajracarya (b. 1956), an artist who lives at Shichahiti, Lalitpur. His father, Pañca Raja Vajracarya (b. 1916), was born at Bhiñce Baha, in the south-eastern area of Lalitpur, and learned the craft from his own father, a professional stone carver. In 1941-1942 (V.S. 1998) he carved a 320-cm-long stone image of Sakyamuni’s demise for the Parinirvana monastery at Kindol, south of Svayambhu, and in 1951-1952 (V.S. 2008) he sculpted eight 91-cm-high lions for the sanctuary of Vajrayogini, 22 km eastnorth-east of Kathmandu. In 1956-1957 (V.S. 2013) he was commissioned to fashion a white stone relief representing Mayadevi giving birth to Siddhartha, after an earlier piece bearing a four-line inscription kept at the Lumbini Museum, where also Pañca Raja’s copy is kept.51 The following year he fashioned a 91-cm-high
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stone statue of the same subject for the already mentioned Parinirvana monastery at Kindol. In 1958-1959 (v.s. 2015) Pañca Raja carved a stone fountain spout for Tribhuvan Park in Kathmandu and two years late he sculpted the stone support for a big bell for the temple at Guhyesvari, which has already been mentioned in connection with Bodhi and Siddhy Raja’s bell; for the same temple Pañca Raja fashioned a statue portraying king Mahendra. In 1963-1964 (V.S. 2020) the Newar artist made a stone stupa at Kapilavastu, southern Nepal. In 1974-1975 (V.S. 2031) he fashioned a stone image of “Ananda Buddha”, depicting Sakyamuni resting on an elbow, for the monastery of Nagarmandapa, near the Great Stupa at Kirtipur, Nepal Valley; the statue measures 122 cm. The last important order he remembers is that for a stone pillar for the garden of Godavari. Pañca Raja’s son, Indra Raja Vajracarya (b. V.S. 2013, corresponding to 1956 C. E.), extended the family trade from stone to ivory (1986) and then to wood carving; now he also carves turquoise, lapis lazuli as well as rock crystal. Crystal is employed to produce yantra and mandala diagrams, as well as statuettes, whereas ivory is used, for example, to fashion the fine elements making up the aprons used in tantric rituals. Around 1970 he accompanied his father to Muktinath—in northern Nepal, 110 km north-west of Pokhara—to carve a 61-cm-high white stone image of Sakyamuni. Around 1973 he carved two 53 cm-high stone reliefs for the premises of the temple of Kumbhesvara at Lalitpur: a figure of Narayana riding Garuda (a common iconographic theme in the Nepal Valley), standing on a stone pedestal near a well north of the main temple; and a group of Siva and Parvati (in a composition found all over the Valley) as well as a spout for the fountain in the pool used for collective ritual bathing during festivals. The Garuda-Narayana replaces a 13th century image of identical subject stolen from the courtyard of that temple.52 He also carved several wood windows, one at the front, the others at the back of the building at the entrance of the same temple. In c. 1981-1982 Indra Raja fashioned twelve 244-cm-high wooden images of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara and furthermore repaired the rooftop of the Samkaradeva Samskarita Mayurvarna monastery at Bhiñce Baha, to whose religious community his family belongs; in 1991-1992 (V.S. 2048) he carved a 183-cm-high wooden statue of Amoghapasa Lokesvara for a chapel found along the southern side of the courtyard of the same monastery. By the end of the 1990s Indra Raja had reached a high standard of craftsmanship. In 1998 he fashioned a number of wooden images, including an 89-cm-high Sakyamuni, a 109-cm-high Mañjusri, as well as the goddess Tara surrounded by the symbolic manifestations of her twenty-one invocations, measuring a total height of 244 cm (Fig.17). One year later he fashioned a 143cm-high wooden statue portraying Sakyamuni seated while displaying the teaching gesture. During our meetings in December 2000 he showed me a fine 120-cmhigh wooden image of the goddess Tara, the various parts making up a threedimensional wooden mandala devoted to Prajñaparamita—whose iconography was being based on a mandala painted in the Three-Storey Temple at A lci, Ladakh— and measuring about 160 x 160 cm, as well as the various parts making up a large wooden image of Cakrasamvara dancing with his consort, which he had carved in 1988 and which had been brought back to him for restoration. Many of the images fashioned by Indra Raja have been sent abroad, but a few are found in a Tibetan monastery belonging to the bKa’ brgyud pa tradition and rising
150 THE TIBET JOURNAL at Chapagaon, 10 km south of Kathmandu: sTag dpal bKa’ brgyud bShad sgrub bKra shis Dar rgyas Phun tshogs Gling lung, where he also carved the shrines housing the statues as well as the main doorways. The greatest of the sculptors born in the 1960s is probably Mohan Raja Sakya (b. 1962), who used to help his father modelling wax to fashion the traditional Newar ritual lamps known as sukunda (including an elaborate pot meant to hold their fuel, mustard-seed oil): lost-wax casting is a family tradition. He lost his father at the age of 13 and the following year he began his apprenticeship under Kaji Ratna Sakya, in whose workshop he stayed for five years (1976-1981). Subsequently he moved to Siddhi Raja’s workshop and remained there until he started working on his own, at the age of 24 (1986), specializing in the manufacture of peaceful deiteis: Buddhas, bodhisattvas and goddesses. Two years later he received an important order for Chinese clients in Taiwan: a 213-cm-high statue of the 11-headed manifestation of Avalokitesvara, which was cast in copper and subsequently gilded. His customers later ordered two more pieces of the same subject, asking him to bring a few corrections to the proportions of the image. The artist resorts to a good Tibetan handbook as his iconometric and iconographic source, but occasionally uses pictures for his iconographic references. Mohan Raja also receives orders for Tibetan monasteries, but (as it often happens) contacts take place through middlemen, so that it is difficult to locate the images made by the artist. In 1995 he fashioned a 213-cm-high brass statue of Sakyamuni and in 1996 he modelled two 152-cm-high clay images, one of Amitabha and the other of Maitreya, for the already mentioned monastery of Thaukhel, near Godavari. In 1996-1997 he made the 213-cm-high gilded copper statue of Sakyamuni occupying the central position in the shrine along the northern wall of the assembly hall in the already mentioned rNying ma pa monastery of lHun grub Chos ’khor Gling. In 1998 he received an order for a number of statues, including one thousand and one hundred 13-cm-high images of Vajrasattva to be sent to the United States. His skills may be appreciated from a beautiful 107-cm-high gilded copper Sita Tara set with turquoise, which he made the following year under the supervision of Maitri Ratna Sakya (Fig.18). CONCLUSIONS The comparison of the data gathered during my survey in the Nepal Valley in December 2000 with those collected during the fieldwork I carried out in the Nepal Valley in the 1970s and in the Tibetan settlements of India in the early 1980s53 confirms that Buddhist Newar artists continue to hold the virtual monopoly in the manufacture of metal, wood, stone and ivory images as well as ritual objects in the Nepal Valley. The information gathered during my last survey also reveals a considerable increase in the artistic production for both local and foreign Buddhists; the latter are above all Tibetans, Bhutanese, Japanese and Chinese. The main reasons for the Newar sculptors’ success and for the renaissance of Newar sculpture in the 20th century must be related not only to the former’s high standards of workmanship and reputation, but also to the soaring construction of Buddhist monasteries in the Nepal Valley, following the lifting of an old ban by the Gorkha kings thanks primarily to Slob dpon Tshe chu’s diplomatic efforts. Comparing the number of Tibetan monasteries built in the Svayambhu and Bodhnatha areas in a span of 24 years—ten from 1951 to 1974—with the figure of
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those subsequently erected within ten years—17 from 1975 to 1984,54 it appears that there has been a progressive acceleration in the foundation of Buddhist monastic institutions in the Nepal Valley during the second half of the 20th century. This phenomenon is partially the consequence of better economic conditions in the Tibetan exile community as well as of the financial support it has received from largely Western Buddhist individuals and institutions. The proliferation of monastic foundations has led to an enormous increase in the demand for new images: a higher number of large-size statues was produced in the last quarter of the 20th century than before, as a consequence of the construction or renovation of monasteries not only in the Nepal Valley, but also in India, Japan, Taiwan, Tibet and the West. The demand of Buddhist institutions for statues is in fact so high that the important images produced by Newar artists for them far outnumber those produced for Brahmanical temples and shrines, in spite of the fact that Hinduism is the official religion of Nepal; and within the production of large Buddhist images, many more are ordered for Tibetan monasteries than they are for Newar monastic foundations. On the whole the iconographic sources, materials and techniques used by Newar sculptors, chasers and gilders have undergone few changes in last 30 years of the 20th century. Western art books and catalogues have been more widely used than they were at the end of the 1960s, alongside with traditional iconometric drawings and contemporary Tibetan handbooks on iconography and iconometry. Clay along with hard wax have continued to be used to fashion the prototype of a statue, while the elements used for moulding the various parts of the wax image are still made from hard wax or clay, although since 1992 some artists have started resorting to silicone to manufacture the moulding elements. Hairdryers and electric stoves have begun to appear in workshops along with the traditional stoves used to soften the wax: the former enable the artists not only to soften, but also to harden the wax more easily. Copper—almost pure, in an alloy of about 90 percent copper and 10 percent brass—has become more and more favoured as a material at the expense of brass (New. li, a term which in Tibet designates a copper alloy) since around 1968: it allows finer chasing than brass and can be fire-gilded without difficulty. Most of the sculptors’ themes continue to belong to the Buddhist pantheon, while their style is influenced — as it has been in the last four decades — by the Newar idiom of the Malla dynasties as well as by the taste of their clients, particulary Tibetan ones, who seem to appreciate the style of images produced during the Malla period. Some artists have continued to specialize in the production of certain classes of deities (wrathful ones in the case of Kalu Kuma), or of specific iconographic types, such as the eleven-headed manifestation of Avalokitesvara produced by Santa Kumara or the image of Siddharta as a child fashioned by Jagat Mana Sakya. Competitiveness among sculptors (some of them self-taught) seems to have exerted a positive influence upon the standards of craftsmanship in general and upon the quality of wooden statuary in particular. The social background of the artists is the same as in the past: with the notable exceptions of Kalu Kuma and of his son Rajes, Newar sculpture in the Nepal Valley is largely the prerogative of the two Buddhist castes that continue to be regarded as the highest, in spite of the official abolition of the caste system: Sakya and Vajracarya.55 Finally, the economic and social status of Newar sculptors—some of them owning workshops attended by several pupils—has improved, although competition has increased as a conse-
152 THE TIBET JOURNAL quence of a higher number of artists involved in the production of images and of a greater output. I thank all the friends who have contributed to illustrate this article with their pictures and in particular Elena Preda—a former student at the Department of Linguistic and Oriental Studies of the University of Bologna—who assisted me during my fieldwork in the Nepal Valley in December 2000 taking pictures of the artists at work in their workshops and of their statues in temples and monasteries. I also wish to thank all the Newar artists who have opened the doors of their workshops (often of their homes) to me, as well as those members of their families who accompanied us during the fieldwork, in particular Rakes Awale, Umes Sakya and Maitri Ratna Sakya. Finally I thank my wife, Stella, for accompanying and assisting me during and after my fieldwork. Notes 1. “Buddhist Himalayan Art in the XXth Century”, Himalayan Culture, I/1 (October 1978), pp.19-35; “Himalayan Sacred Art in the 20th Century,” Art International, XXIV/ 5-6 (January-February 1981), pp.114-128; “Statuary Metals in Tibet and the Himalayas”, British Museum Occasional Papers, 15 (1981), pp.33-67, and Bulletin of Tibetology, 13 (1991), pp.7-41; “Casting of Devotional Images in the Himalayas”, British Museum Occasional Papers, 15 (1981), pp.69-86, and Bulletin of Tibetology, 1-3 (1991), pp.4375 (this last publication reproduces wrong illustrations); “The Artists of the Nepal Valley”, Oriental Art, XXXI/4 (winter 1985-1986), pp.409-420; “Cultural Exchange and Social Interaction between Tibetans and Newars from the Seventh to the Twentieth Century”, International Folklore Review, VI (1988), pp.86-114; “Iconographic Sources and Iconometric Literature in Tibetan and Himalayan Art”, in Tadeusz Skorupski (ed.), Indo-Tibetan Studies, Tring: The Institute of Buddhist Studies, 1990, pp.171-197; “Mercury-gilding in Traditional Himalayan and Tibetan Sculpture”, in Helmut Krasser, Michael Torsten Much, Ernst Steinkellner, Helmut Tauscher (eds.), Tibetan Studies. Proceedings of the 7th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1997, Vol. II, pp.573-582; “The role of Newar scholars in transmitting the Indian Buddhist heritage to Tibet (c. 750 - c. 1200)”, in Samten Karmay and Philippe Sagant (eds.), Les habitants du Toit du monde. Études recueillies en hommage à Alexander W. Macdonald, Nanterre: Société d’ethnologie, 1997, pp.629-658; and “The role of the scholars of the Nepal Valley in the transmission of the Indian Buddhist heritage to Tibet with particular reference to the 13th and 14th centuries”, in Renato Arena, Maria Patrizia Bologna, Maria Luisa Mayer Modena and Alessandro Passi (eds.), Bandhu. Scritti in onore di Carlo della Casa, Alessandria: Edizioni dell’Orso, 1997, pp.191-205. 2. Cf. Jacob Kinnard, Imaging Wisdom. Seeing and Knowing in the Art of Indian Buddhism, Richmond: Curzon, 1999, p.42. 3. There is no Indian text describing the iconographic origin and early development of Prajñaparamita: while images of the goddess were made from at least the ninth century and most of the statues depicting her date to the tenth century, the earliest texts describing her iconography were written in the 12th century (ibid., pp.22 and 134-135). MarieThérèse de Mallmann (Introduction à l’iconographie du tântrisme bouddhique, Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1975, p.463) points out that images of Yama on his own do not agree with the descriptions in texts. Pratapaditya Pal aptly drew my attention—in the course of an enlightening conversation in October 2000—that there is no text justifying the presence of the stupa on Maitreya’s head. 4. Kinnard, op.cit., p.12 and 137. One of the consequences of the current mechanical application of textual knowledge to iconography is the fact that images representing Sakyamuni have been arbitrarily identified with the Buddha Akrobhya on the mere
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grounds that they are portrayed in the gesture of “touching the earth”—shared by both Buddhas—whereas such images are in fact “decidedly polyvalent and involve a kind of scale of meanings, a variety of devotional and hermeneutical possibilities” (ibid., p.112). 5. Ibid., pp.131-132. 6. Mary Shepherd Slusser, “Drawing of Seated Maitreya” (in Thomas Lawton & Thomas W. Lentz (eds.), Beyond the Legacy, Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington: Smithsonian Institution—Freer Gallery, 1998, p.177). The same author (with Nutan Sharma and James A. Giambrone) has devoted a very important article to the metal repoussé sculpture in the Nepal Valley: “Metamorphosis: Sheet Metal to Sacred Image in Nepal” (Artibus Asiae, LVIII/3-4, 1999), pp.215-232. 7. bSam gtan Gling? 8. Gong mda’? 9. The letters sent by the three sculptors from Tibet to Lalitpur—reporting the dates of their stays at the various monasteries—are preserved by the family. 10. This monastery was renovated and extended in 1970; see Corneille Jest, “Le Bouddhisme, son expression tibétaine dans la vallée de Kathmandu, Népal. Aspects sociologiques et économiques d’une expansion hors du Tibet, 1959-1984”, Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricarum, XLIII/2-3 (1989), p.434. 11. Hem Raja Sakya, Spi Svayambhu Mahacaitya, Kathmandu: Svayambhu Bikas Mandal, 1978, p.534; the same author adds that the statue measures eight Newar cubits in height. 12. For the actual meaning of this term in the social context of Helambu see Graham Clarke, “Lama and Tamang in Yolmo” (in Michael Aris and Aung San Suu Kyi (eds.), Tibetan Studies in Honour of Hugh Richardson, Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 1980, pp.79-86). Other studies by Clarke on the cultural traditions in Helambu include “A Helambu History” (Journal of the Nepal Research Centre, 4, 1980, pp.1-38), “The Great and Little Traditions in the study of Yolmo, Nepal” (in Ernst Steinkellner and Helmut Tauscher (eds.), Contributions on Tibetan Language, History and Culture. Proceedings of the Csoma de Körös Symposium Held at Velm-Vienna, Austria, 13-19 September 1981, Wien: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische un Buddhistische Studien – Universität Wien, 1983, Vol.1, pp.21-37) and “Nara (na-rag) in Yolmo: a Social History of Hell in Helambu” (in Ernst Steinkellner (ed.), Tibetan History and Language – Studies dedicated to Uray Géza on his Seventieth Birthday, Wien: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische un Buddhistische Studien Universität Wien, 1991, pp.43-62). 13. Cf. Jest, op.cit., p.434, and Mireille Helffer, “A Recent Phenomenon: the Emergence of Buddhist Monasteries around the Stupa of Bodhnath”, in Gérard Toffin (ed.), The Anthropology of Nepal. From Tradition to Modernity, Kathmandu: French Cultural Centre - French Embassy, 1993, p.118. 14. On the meanings of this term—which scholars had until recently assumed to be a Newarized variant of the Skr. Vihara—and on the related one, bahi, see Siegfried Lienhard, “On Some Key-Terms in Newar Buddhism”, in Siegfried Lienhard (ed.), Change and Continuity. Studies in the Nepalese Culture of the Kathmandu Valley, Alessandria: Edizioni dell’Orso, 1996, pp.241-256, and in particular pp.247-248. 15. See for example “Himalayan Sacred Art in the 20th Century”, op.cit. 16. John Locke, Buddhist Monasteries of Nepal. A Survey of the Bahas and Bahis of the Kathmandu Valley, Kathmandu: Sahayogi Press, 1985, pp.101-103. 17. Ibid., p.349. In 1977 the statue of Maitreya was restored and finely painted by the great Newar painter, Siddhi Muni Sakya. 18. On this site see ibid., pp.337-340; the fifth jina, Vairocana, is a later addition by another sculptor. The statues are hardly visible because of the heavy chain curtains protecting them as well as many other art works since thieves started plundering the artistic treasures of the Valley to satisfy the greed of Western collectors. 19. According to Hem Raja this image represents the transcendental Buddha Akrobhya.
154 THE TIBET JOURNAL 20. Without including the lotus stand, which was made on the site from concrete. 21. This statue may correspond to the image published in Thubten Legshay Gyatsho, Gateway to the Temple. Manual of Tibetan Monastic Customs, Art, Building and Celebrations, Kathmandu: Ratna Pustak Bhandar, 1979, opp. p.49, fig. 12. 22. Published in Le Tibet en exil, 2 (November 1974), p.1. 23. Michael Aris’s personal communication as included in a letter dated September 22nd, 1980. 24. This image apparently wears the crown of the Jo bo statue of the monastery of sKyid grong or a copy of the latter made by a Newar craftsman. 25. These last three statues were published—two of them with incorrect measures—without the name of the artist in Erberto Lo Bue, “The Artists of the Nepal Valley”, op.cit., pp.417-418, figs. 28, 29 and 32. The problem of the attribution of several images is due to the fact that Buddhist monasteries abroad generally order their images from artists in Lalitpur through middlemen or religious personages living in the Nepal Valley, such as Slob dpon Tshe chu, who has commissioned Newar sculptors on behalf of monastic foundations in Bhutan and Nepal since at least the 1940s. 26. This sculptor should not to be confused with Manika Ratna Sakya (b. 1957), a cousin of the chaser Purna Mana Sakya; the latter is the son of the famous master chaser Siddhi Raja Sakya (b. 1934), who in turn should not be confused with the sculptor bearing the same name. 27. Cf. Jest, op.cit., p.434, and Helffer op.cit., p.117. Jest gives Khra ’khrugs Rin po che as the name of the leader of the monastery, whereas Helffer says that the latter was founded by lTa rig Rin po che; I have been given the name and spelling Khra rigs Rin po che. 28. Helffer, ibid. 29. Jest, op.cit., p.441, where the date of construction is given as 1971. 30. Both dates are given by Jest (op.cit., pp.436 and 441), who mentions ’Phreng ’khor Rin po che as the leader of the monastery and Grang sku Rin po che as its founder. 31. The parcel-gilt copper alloy portraits kept at Sa skya brTse chen Gling in Kuttolsheim (France) and published by that Sa skya pa centre in Les vingt ans de l’institut bouddhiste Sakya Tsechen Ling, Kuttolsheim – Strasbourg – France, 1978-1998 (Strasbourg: Sakya Tsechen Ling, 1998, pp.6 and 10) are certainly Newar and may well belong to the set fashioned in Siddhi Raja’s worshop. 32. The Geneva Musée d’Ethnographie reproduced Nhuchhe Raja Sakya’s Citipati on the front cover of its Bulletin Annuel, 16 (1973), where a caption attributes the image to Tibet and dates it 18th-19th century, in spite of the fact that the keeper of the collection at the time of the acquisition was informed of both the origin and the date of that piece, coming from the former Aniko Collection of Tibetan and Himalayan Art, of which I was the keeper. Another specimen of Siddhi Raja Sakya’s Citipati, with silver or white metal eyes—previously in the late Lorenzo Alessandri’s “Dorje Collection”—was acquired in 2000 by a private collector in Turin. The iconography of this image was briefly described in my Ph.D. thesis, Himalayan Sculpture in the XXth Century. A Study of the Religious Statuary in Metal and Clay in the Nepal Valley and Ladakh, London: University of London, 1981, pp.72-73. 33. Dharmacakra Art Traders, Darbar Square (behind Kprna’s main temple), Lalitpur. 34. The paintings, framed under glass, hang just below roof along the back and sides of the temple. Mnanda Muni’s paintings probably replaced the earlier series studied by Benoytosh Bhattacharyya, who noticed it in the 1920s, regarded it as “at least two hundred years old”, described it and published its iconography (The Indian Buddhist Iconography, New Delhi: Cosmo Publications, n. d., p.88, pls. XLIII-LXIX and pp.177-188). 35. Published by E. Lo Bue in Oriental Art, XXXI/4 (op.cit.), p.415, fig. 25. 36. John S. Guy, “Medieval Kashmir Bronzes: Defining a Style” in M. F. Linda (ed.), The Real, the Fake, and the Masterpiece, New York: Asia Society Galleries, 1988, p.32; related images were published in the same book, pp.30-31 (Nos. 16-17 and figs. 2-4). Cf.
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also Pratapaditya Pal, “A Brahmanical Triad from Kashmir and Some Related Icons” (Archives of Asian Art, 27, 1973-74, p.36, fig.5), and Bronzes of Kashmir (Graz: Akademische Druck - u. Verlagsanstalt, 1975, pp.214-216, figs. 84a, b, c), and Sadashiv Gorakshkar, “Three Metal Sculptures from Kashmir”, Bulletin of the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India, 11 (1971), pp.40-45, figs. 36-42. A specimen of Nhuchhe Raja Sakya’s Caturanana Virnu is part of the Aniko Collection loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum. 37. Cf. for instance the “highly important Chamba bronze figure of Visnu as Chaturvyuha” illustrated in Christie’s catalogue of the sale “Important Indian, Tibetan, Nepalese and Chinese Works of Art” of the 11th December 1975 and dated “10th/ 11th century” (No.138, pp.68-69 and colour plate facing p.68): that statue measures about the same size as Nhuchhe Raja Sakya’s (54.6 cm in height) and is also made up of several parts of copper—not “bronze”—assembled thanks to the technique used by Newar artists of fitting them together with pegs and holes. The only real difference between the piece on sale at Christie’s and the one kept at the Victoria and Albert Museum is that the three minor figures surrounding the main image were missing from the former, which is furthermore poorly chased. For a further discussion of such modern copies, see Guy, op.cit., p.32. 38. Published by Lo Bue, Oriental Art, XXXI/4 (op.cit.), p.418, fig. 34, where the caption wrongly places that monastery in Bylakuppe; the size of the image is meant from the base of the throne to the top of the backplate. 39. Ibid., p.417, figs. 30 and 31, where the sizes given in the captions are incorrect. 40. Ibid., p.418, fig. 35, where the size and place name given in the caption are incorrect. 41. Cf. Jest, op.cit., pp.434 and 437, and Helffer, op.cit., p.116; the former gives 1953 as the date of the “construction” of the “site”, and the latter 1959 as the date of foundation of the monastery following earlier extensions of the house which had been built there by the Mongolian lama after he reached the Nepal Valley in the 1950s. 42. Cf. New. kumal, “potter”. 43. Mallmann, op.cit., p.401. 44. Ian Alsop & Jill Charlton, “Image Casting in Oku Bahal”, Himalayan Culture, I/1 (December 1973), p.47. 45. Perhaps in the course of the same robbery mentioned above in connection with Siddhi Raja Sakya’s making of the image of Balakaumari. The “original” brass statue of Bhairava stolen from the main shrine was itself a replacement for a previous image, stolen in 1971. 46. See for example the image published on p.44 of Thakur Prasad Mainali’s Contemporaty Art and Artists of Nepal (Kathmandu: Nepal Association of Fine Arts, 1975), illustrating an apparently hornless Vajrabhairava (“Megh Sambar”) by Jog Mana Sakya, a former member of N. A. F. A.; Kalu Kuma had already modelled that statue in 1968, using a Tibetan painted scroll as his source. It is hard to believe that Jog Mana Sakya happened to find and use the same iconography known to Kalu Kuma for his own reference, considering that an image of hornless Vajrabhairava is, to say the least, unique and obviously the fruit of an error in the interpretation of its iconography. 47. Locke, op.cit., p.232. 48. See for example Ernst Waldschmidt & Rose Leonore, Nepal. Art Treasures from the Himalayas, Calcutta–Bombay–New Delhi: Oxford & IBH Publishing Co., 1969, p.40, where the caption wrongly locates the image in the Nepal Museum of Kathmandu. 49. Erberto Lo Bue, Tibet: dimora degli dei. Arte buddhista tibetana e himalayana dal XII al XX secolo, Milano: La Rinascente, 1991, p.55, fig. 28. 50. According to the information I was given in December 2000 and again in August 2001; according to the information I was given in August 1978, he was born on the 18th November 1956. A similar episode occurred to me with Mana Jyoti Sakya; in that case the difference was as much as ten years, so his astrological chart had to be consulted to find his exact date of birth. A great importance is attached to the date of birth only from
156 THE TIBET JOURNAL an astrological point of view; birthdays are hardly celebrated and it may happen that people do not even remember them. 51. Cf. Olga Amman & Giulia Barletta, Nella Terra degli Dei, Milano: dall’Oglio, 1982, fig. opp. p.81. 52. Both statues have been published in Lain Singh Bangdel’s Stolen Images of Nepal, Kathmandu: Royal Nepal Academy, 1989, pp.239-242, pls. 157-159. A group of UmaMahesvara was stolen from the same site in October 1985 (ibid., pp.85-88, pls.30-32). 53. As part of an individual project sponsored by the British Academy. 54. Jest, op.cit., pp.434-437; cf. Helffer, op.cit., pp.114-131. 55. The only exception is Chandan Pal—an artist apparently of Bengalese origin who came to the Valley from Tarai, southern Nepal—who fashions metal images in Lalitpur.
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FIG.1 Sakyamuni, by Kubera Simha Sakya. Gilded copper, 366 cm. 19541958 Karmaraja Monastery, Svayambhu. Courtesy of Nicole Authier.
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FIG.2 Stupa, by Raja Kumara Sakya. Gilded copper,122 cm. 1986. Maitreya monastery, Svayambhu. Courtesy of Elena Preda.
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FIG.3 Vajrasattva, Mana Jyoti Sakya. Brass, 99 cm. C. 1955. bKa’ rNying bShad sgrub Gling, Bodhnatha. Courtesy of Italo Gilardi.
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FIG.4 Sakyamuni, by Bodhi Raja Sakya. Gilded copper, 151 cm. 1989. Uku Baha, Lalitpur. Courtesy of Elena Preda.
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FIG.5 Karma pa Lama, by Siddhi Raja Sakya. Parcel-gilt copper, 91 cm. C. 1980. Dril yag E wam dPal ris bKra shis Mi ’gyur monastery, Bodhnatha. Courtesy of Elena Preda.
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FIG.6 Siddhi Raja Sakya in his workshop. 15th December 2000. Lalitpur. Courtesy of Elena Preda.
FIG.7 Vajra-cross. Gilded copper, 115 cm. 1999. Maitri Ratna Sakya’s collection, Lalitpur. Courtesy of Elena Preda.
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FIG.8 Metal image in its wax bed, ready for chasing. Bhima Sakya’s workshop. 16th December 2000. Courtesy of Elena Preda.
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FIG.9 Khri gtsug rGyal ba, by Nhuchhe Raja Sakya. Parcel-gilt copper, 61.5 cm. C. 1994. Khri brtan Nor bu rTse Monastery, Ichangu Narayana area. Courtesy of Elena Preda.
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FIG.10 Remati, by Kalu Kuma (detail). Gilded copper, 107 cm.. 1986. Gangs can Bla brang Srid zhi’i ’Dod rgyur ’Khril ba, Ca Bahi. Courtesy of Elena Preda.
FIG.11 Vajrayogini, by Kalu Kuma (detail). Copper, 101 cm. C. 1990. Guru Deva’s residence, Bodhnatha. Courtesy of Elena Preda.
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FIG.12 Sakyamuni, by Jagat Mana Sakya. Gilded brass, 86 cm. 1973. Darbar Square, Lalitpur. Courtesy of Elena Preda.
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FIG.13 Tara, by “Babu” Kaji Vajracarya. Brass, 16.5 cm. 1976. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Courtesy of Hari Bangsha Kirant.
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FIG.14 Avalokitesvara, by Santa Kumara Sakya. Gilded copper, 198 cm. 1999-2000. Byang chen Chos grub Gling, Chobar. Courtesy of Elena Preda.
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FIG.15 Vajrasattva, by Candra Bhai Sakya. Gilded copper, 95 cm. 1993-1994. Sinchahiti, Lalitpur. Courtesy of Elena Preda.
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FIG.16 Rajes Kuma near a huge mould in his workshop. 16th December 2000. Sinchahiti, Lalitpur. Courtesy of Elena Preda.
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FIG.17 Tara, by Indra Raja Sakya. Polychrome wood, 244 cm. 1998. Uku Baha, Lalitpur. Courtesy of Elena Preda.
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FIG.18 Sita Tara, by Mohan Raja. Gilded copper, 107 cm. 1999. Maitri Ratna Sakya’s collection, Lalitpur. Courtesy of Maitri Ratna Sakya.