Kundus Gallery, San Francisco, 1973
California Private Collection
This majestic sculpture depicts Ratnasambhava, one of the Five Transcendent Buddhas. His name translates literally as “Buddha of Precious Birth,” and he is Lord of the Jewel clan and the south. The Tathagata is seated here in dhyanasana on a beaded lotus throne with his hands in dhyana and varada mudras. He wears a close-fitting dhoti, the hem of which is incised with geometric motifs, and a billowing sash decorated with stippled rosettes. Around his neck are several necklaces, one in copper, and his foliate armbands are inset with turquoise, below which beaded strands are suspended.
His high crown is fronted by a kirtimukha, from whose mouth emerge the lotus stems which form the rest of the headdress. It is further ornamented by a pair of rosettes, also inset with turquoise, and sashes which flutter upward on either side of his head. Across his forehead his hair is arranged in a row of hook-shaped curls, and the remainder has been drawn up into a tall, piled chignon surmounted by a foliate ornament.
As a Celestial Buddha, Ratnasambhava is portrayed deep in meditation. Beneath his undulating, incised eyebrows his eyes are downcast in contemplation. A circular urna is in relief at the center of his forehead, and his mouth forms a pleasant smile. Like many sculptures from Western Tibet, his eyes are inlaid with silver and his lips with copper, a reflection of the influence of the Kashmir aesthetic in the region, although other features seen in the present example resemble those of the Pala style.
For a related example compare the figure of Ratnasambhava at The Rubin Museum of Art, #C2010.19 (HAR 65931).