Tibetan Buddhist Large Size Pair of Mythicised Lions

Brass Sculpture

23 inch X 16.5 inch X 10 inch - Each

41.7 kg

This pair of highly stylized animal-forms cast in brass in typicalNepalese character representing lions is the Tibetan interpretation ofthis great animal’s anatomy, might, grace, monarchism and overallmythicism – every aspect curiously magnified in the statues. Thestatues do not represent the animal as it is seen with a common man’seye but seek to manifest aspects, some of them being abstract, andsome other, mythical, which define its essential being and elevate itto the height where it acquires parity with celestial beings andenters the world of myths giving it competence to associate with godsand high monarchs, a status which no other animal, except sometimesthe elephant, enjoys. Conceived with a crowned head and a face securedin a helmet type frame, hind legs, with protective leg-guards, and theentire figure, as contained within a strong armament, the animaltranscends all classes of lions found anywhere in the world, or hasbeen reported in zoological histories.Otherwise a simple form modeled like a toy-lion the statues representthe monarch of all animals with its fearful wide open mouth held highin full majesty and princely grace. Besides the crowning headgear andhelmet-type frame around the face its dreadful canine teeth andlolling tongue inspire awe as should do the sceptre holding monarch.Though a forward thrust defines its posture, as if ready to charge atits prey, the animal, known to be always alert, has been conceived asstanding with a commander’s grace and patience. In Indian stylelion-statues, widely used as architecture- components, the lions’figures are conceived with forelegs fully stretched as if for making along leap, and the hind, collected to optimize the body’s force. Inthem the tail is usually secured on the back lest it hindered thepace, eyes, fixed on the target, ears, alert to the faintest sound ofany movement, and wide open mouth, lolling tongue and sharp canineteeth eager to tear and devour. Though not realistically cast, orunrealistically stylized, this Nepali style lion does not alternate abuilding part. The colour of metal, its medium, further underlines theanimal’s golden colour and majesty.As for the overall anatomy of the animal, it has been conceived with arelatively elongated mouth and a head having a helmet-type upwardsrising apex. It has a thicker neck without mane but has instead thefeathers like hair line on its upper side covering mainly the head’sback and the head attributing to the animal mythical look of a wingedlion. Most interesting is its upwards raised tail consisting of adragon form : an essential attribute of Chinese, Tibetan and Nepaleseart. The tail’s curving stretch is usual like a thick rope but thetuft of hair that comprises its end consists of a dragon’s mouth. Theanimal’s entire body appears as assembled a robot like of shield-likeprotruding plates, and the body-hair on the sides of the back and onhaunches, more like arabesques. The thicker hair-line on the ankles ofthe hind legs has been conceived like leg-guards. The figure has beenadorned with laces of beads, one loosely hung on the neck, and other,close to it.Though the lion-statues in the form of lion capitals had emergedduring the period of the Mauryan emperor Ashok whose territoriesextended to Nepal and beyond and the Buddha’s doctrine of non-violenceand mutuality of human and animal worlds were primarily responsiblefor the cult of affectionately looking even at a lion-like dreadfulanimal, in the medieval Nepal the Devi-worship-cult promoted theaffectionate representation of lion in different mediums. The lion wasseen continuing as subordinate imagery in Buddhist art of Tibet, Nepaland Shri Lanka, in Sri Lanka such mythicized lion being its emblem onthe national flag, it emerged, however, more powerfully in Deviiconography and was often represented also independently. Not for fearbut love and curiosity lion has always evoked great reverence inpeople’s minds.This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.
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