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Tibetan Lama Art

Switzerland / Germany

The Tibetan Lama Art Gallery specialises in contemporary Tibetan Buddhist art objects. The gallery was established in Hamburg in 1999 and has been represented in Zurich since 2012. The objects, statues and thangkas (images of tantric Buddhism) on offer are unique handcrafted pieces made in Nepal according to centuries-old traditions.

The statues are crafted using the cire perdue process, also known as lost wax casting. The surface is then treated with a gold or silver alloy. The thangkas are hand-painted on cotton canvas with stone colours and, on occasion, gold leaf. Subsequently, the edges are embellished with coloured brocade.
Buddhist artefacts are traditionally not signed, as the work on them is seen as a karmic process. Objects of this nature are created through elaborate manufacturing processes, which correspond to the iconometric and iconographic specifications for objects of Tibetan Buddhism that are still produced today. The traditional craft of statue makers and thangka painters in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal represents a cultural asset of extraordinary value. The Tibetan Lama Art Gallery is dedicated to the preservation of this ancient tradition, and thus the commitment to the survival of this craft is a fundamental aspect of its work.
While the art world is preoccupied with ancient Buddhist artefacts, which often command considerable sums at auction, the Tibetan Lama Art Gallery seeks to highlight a craft that produces exceptional artworks in the present moment, yet is endangered.

At the fair, Tibetan Lama Art will provide an opportunity for visitors to gain insight into the enduring art of Tibetan Buddhism.

Bodhisattva 4-Armed Avalokiteshvara

Bodhisattva 4-Armed Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig) / Material: copper (lost wax form), fire-gilded, partially decorated with semi-precious stones / Height: 73 cm, ca. 1979 / Courtesy of Tibetan Lama Art Zurich

In a seated position with crossed legs, the individual assumes the vajra posture, with the hands of one pair of arms enclosing the wish jewel, Cintamani, in front of the heart. The right hand of the second pair of arms is employed to hold the prayer chain, while the left hand is used to hold the symbol of purity, namely a white lotus flower.
The statue is a singularly exquisite example of craftsmanship. The finely carved face is of particular note. The robe and base are intricately hallmarked. Additionally, the statue exhibits a distinctive feature when viewed from the rear. The base of the statue incorporates the incorporation of small prayer wheels.
This makes this statue a particularly noteworthy example.

Thangka Buddha Shakyamuni

Thangka Buddha Shakyamuni / Material: Hand-painted cotton canvas with gold leaf in a traditional brocade frame / Size: 255 x 180 cm (incl. brocade), ca. 1994 / Courtesy of Tibetan Lama Art Zurich

This Buddhist painting, designated as a thangka, represents a pinnacle of artistic achievement within its genre. The thangka is notable for its distinctive composition, which features a central representation of Buddha Shakyamuni, the Enlightened One, surrounded by 1000 miniature depictions of Shakyamuni.
The meticulous detailing of the individual depictions is particularly noteworthy. A single hair-paintbrush is employed for this purpose.

Statue Dakini Vajravarahi

Statue Dakini Vajravarahi / Material: pure gold (lost wax form), partially decorated with semi-precious stones / Height: 23 cm, 2014 / Courtesy of Tibetan Lama Art Zurich

Vajravarahi is depicted in a joyful, dancing pose. The statue is iconographically correct in all details. The following details are presented for consideration: The left leg is extended, while the right leg is elevated. In the hand of the right arm, which is extended upwards, she holds the shark knife (Kartika), while in the left hand, positioned in front of her heart, she holds the skull bowl (Kapalla). The magic staff (Khatvanga) is situated in the crook of her left arm.
The distinctive boar's head, a defining feature of the Vajravarahi, is concealed within the hair on the right side of the subject's head. A statue of this calibre, crafted from pure gold, is a rare occurrence and thus imbues the piece with a unique quality. Furthermore, the statue features an array of intricate semi-precious stone embellishments.
This is an exceptional piece of art.

Statue Adibuddha Vajrasattva

Statue Adibuddha Vajrasattva / Material: copper (lost wax form), stone finish / Height: 92 cm, ca. 1979 / Courtesy of Tibetan Lama Art Zurich

Vajrasattva, also known as the diamond being, is depicted seated in the Vajrasana posture, holding the symbols of the tantric vehicle in his hands. The right hand, which symbolises the masculine principle, holds a thunderbolt, or vajra, before the breast. The left hand, which symbolises the feminine principle, rests on the thigh and holds a bell, called a ghanta.
This statue exemplifies a unique surface treatment of a copper casting, known as the "stone finish." Only a select few artisans are still capable of producing high-quality statues of this nature. This artefact is a true masterpiece in its field.