LONDON.- The Asian works of Art Auction
on Wednesday 22nd May truly demonstrates the diversity of influences and styles in the vast territories stretching from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Chinese border. A particular highlight of the sale is a large bronze figure of Amitayus, a form of the Buddha, dating from 13th/14th century Tibet. This impressive bronze is inlaid with silver and copper and shows the strong influence from the earlier centuries of Buddhism in the Indian subcontinent, before the religion spread North and Eastwards, eventually as far as Japan. Estimate: £15,000-£20,000.
Another important religion in India, despite its minority status, is Jainism, which still has important enclaves in the Western regions and in the Deccan, further South. The iconography is similar to and often confused with Buddhism and several bronze images related to the faith are included in the sale. The earliest is a Jain bronze figure of Parsvanatha, from Western India, dated SAMVAT 1213/1156 AD which has been consigned by a private collector in Italy. Typical of earlier Jain bronze shrines is the sense of movement in the attendant figures, something which is not seen in the more rigid compositions of 16th century shrines. Parsvanatha is the 23rd of the twenty-four Jain tirthankaras, and the easiest to identify with his protective cobra canopy, which represents very similar iconography to figures of Buddha being sheltered from the great storm under Mucalinda. Estimate: £2000-£3000.
The tragic events of Partition at the moment of independence for India and Pakistan remain sensitive in the region today; for many people who found themselves on the wrong side of the new frontier, it meant leaving their homes for ever. A large collection of interesting manuscripts and paintings has been consigned by the descendant of a family who had to leave Lahore and eventually came to settle in the UK, which was ironic considering that they were deeply involved in the independence movement! A highlight in the collection is a Jain manuscript. This Jain Sangrahani Sutra, from Western India is circa 17th century and carries an estimate of £2000-£3000. Travelling in the opposite direction was the celebrated artist, Laila Shahzada; born in England, she moved to Pakistan after independence and lived there for the rest of her life. One of her oils, titled Nostalgia has been consigned by a personal friend of the artist who was given the picture in the 1980s on a visit to Pakistan. This has an estimate of £3000-£5000.
The large painted cloth hangings, known as picchavai were produced in Nathdwara in Rajasthan, Western India, to be displayed during annual Hindu festivals celebrating the particular form of the cult of Krishna in the region where he is known as Sri Nath Ji. These hangings were quite fragile and frequently replaced, and during the early years of western tourism in the 1960s, began to be avidly collected. The sale includes a superb group which have been consigned by a retired London couple who used to run an art gallery in Hong Kong in the 1960s-1980s. A good example, which depicts Sharada Utsava, Nathdwara, Rajasthan, from second half of the 19th century. Estimate: £5000-£7000.