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Volume 38 - Number 4 - May 2007

A Winter in the Field

by Rob Linrothe, Associate Professor of Art History at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.

This article follows the author's earlier account in our May 1999 issue of his first six research trips to the region of Ladakh and Zangskar. On his twelfth trek in the area, Linrothe made three important new finds which, although modest, represent significant breakthroughs in the ongoing recovery of art history of this region as evidenced by his detailed analysis of the structures and the murals in this article. For example, Linrothe suggests that Kashmir painters were engaged by the Zangla court to decorate the Malakartse Khar stupa in a version of early Esoteric Buddhist art and dates them to the mid- to late 11th century on stylistic and iconographic grounds.
The 13th century Central Tibet-style of the images of the Drigung hierarchs in the Hidden Lhakhang at Lingshed monastery are evidence that artists of this period were also at work on the border of Ladakh and Zangskar and also suggests that the Kumbum monastery has a Drigung origin prior to its Gelugpa affiliation. Additional investigation of paintings in a `Secret Room' in the same complex further provides indisputable evidence of the Lingshed Kumbum's pre-Gelugpa history.

Detail of right (north) wall showing Puspa with a bowl of flowers
Malakartse Khar stupa, Zangskar, India
Probably mid- to late 11th century
Mural painting

Main (west) wall of cella showing
Shakyamuni with two bodhisattvas
Hidden Lhakhang, Lingshed monastery, Zangskar, India
Probably late 13th century
Mural painting




Faded Remains: Little-Known 12th Century Wall Paintings in Ladakh's Markha Valley

by Melissa R. Kerin, PhD candidate in the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania.

The author relates how she discovered temple paintings in the hamlet of Sku, three days walk from Ladakh, that were products of the later phase of artistic production associated with the Buddhist renaissance of the 10th to 12th century. These paintings, which had escaped academic notice, provide iconographic and stylistic information that contributes to a deeper understanding of Ladakh's artistic milieu during this early period. Through visual comparisons and stylistic analysis, Kerin dates the murals in the older structure to late 12th century in the West Tibetan style, known as the Indo-Tibetan, Kashmiri and Guge styles.

Sku temple, Ladakh




Documenting the Last Surviving Murals of Nyarma

by Gerald Kozicz, architectural researcher specializing in the architecture of Vajrayana Buddhism, whose current project is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).

In 2002, 2004 and 2006 the author visited the monastery complex of Nyarma in Ladakh to carry out a complete survey of the monuments. This article focuses on three stupas outside the main compound which form an architectural unit and contain chambers decorated with murals. Contrary to the murals being dated to the 15th century by Jamba Losang Panglung in 1981, the author suggests that the style is related to the art of Kashmir during the 12th century. He bases this on the predominance of the three-family configuration and the structural relationship of the mandala to those of Nako, however further research on the relationship between these three stupas and other similar sites in the region will shed further light.

The three stupas of Nyarma, Ladakh, in 2006
(Photography by Bernhard Hohmann)

Vairochana with subsidiary images
North (main) wall, stupa no. 2, Nyarma, Ladakh
12th century
Mural painting




Strengthening the Roots: An Indian Yogi in Early Drigung Paintings of Ladakh and Zangskar

by Rob Linrothe, Associate Professor of Art History at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.

The author attempts to substantiate his argument that a figure of a siddha in the murals of Drigung Kagyu Sumtsek, considered key to understanding the latest phase of the early temples at Alchi, can be identified as Padampa Sangye by examining recent studies connecting this Indian yogi with the Drigung lineage.

Right to left: Virupa, Padmasambhava, Padampa Sangye and Atisha(?)
Entrance wall, Guru Lhakhang, Phyang, Ladakh
Late 14th/early 15th century
Mural painting




A Form of Tara Peculiar to Alchi

by Yashaswini Chandra, PhD candidate in the Department of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

In her recent research the author has attempted to identify more precisely the representations of the Green Tara, the image which has come to typify the elegant splendour of the art of Alchi, and to contextualize the composition. Although numerous attempts have been made to correlate the four representations of Green Tara as well as the central image with prescribed forms, the author argues that the configuration is unique to Sumtsek and that only the central figure, corresponding to the iconographies of Dhanada Tara and Durgottarini Tara as prescribed by Sadhanamala, and the figure in the lower register of Rajashri Tara and in the upper register of Dhanada Tara can be identified with some confidence.

Green Tara with subsidiary images
Ground floor, Sumtsek, Alchi, Ladakh
Circa 1200
Mural painting




`New' Early Works of Tibeto-Nepalese Repousse

by John Clarke, Curator of the Himalayan Collection in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; his special interest is Tibetan metalwork.

For his discussion, the author has selected three works which are all products of the Newar craftsmen of Nepal probably commissioned by Tibetan patrons and dating between 11th and 15th century. Most spectacular is a newly discovered large repoussé gilt-copper fragment of a mandala which, although incomplete, is impressive in scale and the quality of workmanship, and gives a rare glimpse of a comparatively early example of this type of object. In his close examination of the style and iconography and comparison with other metal mandala and paintings, the author suggests a tentative dating of the late 14th to the mid-15th century. Also discussed are two amulet boxes which are rare dateable early examples - the first, probably containing Akshobhya, dates to 11th/12th century, and the second with a seated Buddha, probably Amitayus, dates to the mid-14th to mid-15th century.

Fragment of a five-deity Chakrasamvara mandala comprising the central,
west (right) and north (lower) sections
Newar production, Nepal or Tibet, late 14th to mid-15th century
Gilt copper
Length 78 cm, width 59 cm, height 7.5 cm
Private collection




From Staten Island to Shangri-La: The Collecting Life of Jacques Marchais

by Sarah Johnson, Curator of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art and the exhibition `From Staten Island to Shangri-la: The Collecting Life of Jacques Marchais' (on view at the museum until 31 December 2008).

The Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art marked its 60th anniversary on 18 March 2007 with an exhibition `From Staten Island to Shangri-la: The Collecting Life of Jacques Marchais'. It sheds light on the virtually unknown activity of the museum's founder, Jacques Marchais (1887-1948) who created an institution that served as a bridge for the world to understand the rich artistic and cultural traditions of Tibet and the Himalayan region. Johnson gives an account of Marchais's life and her importance in the context of early 20th century Himalayan art-collecting in the West.

Jacques Marchais with the three-tier altar display
at the opening of her museum, 1947

Interior of the library, c. 1945




A Moment in History Re-Emerges in Full Colour and Detail: Yuanxi Kaiyan by Zhang Tingyuan and Zhou Kun

by Nancy Berliner, Curator of Chinese Art at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts.

One of four scrolls that Qianlong commissioned to commemorate the conquests of the Jinchuan region recently reemerged and was exhibited at the Peabody Essex Museum offering visitors the opportunity to delve into the richness of a Chinese emperor's life. The painting, from a French collection, had appeared at an auction at Christie's, Paris in November 2005. It is the fourth in the set which depicts the Victoria Banquet in the Western Garden (Yuanxi Kaiyan). (The first two in the series were sold at Christie's in 1993 and the location of the third scroll is unknown.) The author focuses on a number of scenes and reflects on the artists' ability to depict the spirit of the celebration.

Detail of the painting in Figure 3 showing the Qianlong emperor
on his sedan chair borne by sixteen eunuchs

Detail of the painting in Figure 3 showing the imperial yurt,
other temporary structures and assembled officials




Harrie A. Vanderstappen (1921-2007)

by Robert Poor, Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Minnesota.

The author concludes his tribute to The Reverend Hendricus `Harrie' Vanderstappen, Professor Emeritus in Art and East Asian Languages & Civilizations at the University of Chicago, saying "if a death can ever be a `good' death, Father Harrie Vanderstappen passed on to another world following a night of food and fellowship with his fellow priests at the Society of the Divine Word in Techny, Illinois - leaving this world a sadder place."

Father Vanderstappen in his office, 1980
(Photography by Louise Virgin)




In his review of The Temples of Lhasa, Tibetan Buddhist Architecture from the 7th to 21st Centuries by Andre Alexander, Erberto F. Lo Bue commends the publication as being the first systematic attempt to document the present state of Buddhist temples in the old town of Lhasa and provides a wealth of information, pictures and plans of otherwise forgotten sites.

Panoramic view of Meru Nyingpa monastery, former Lhasa seat
of the Nechung Oracle, restored by the Tibet Heritage Fund 1999-2000
(Photography by Andre Alexander, 2000)
(After Alexander, p. 103)




Announcements

Joe Earle will become Vice President and Director of the Japan Society Gallery in New York 4 September. For Earle, this will be an `opportunity to build a distinctive, durable and popular exhibition programme that covers many aspects of Japanese art, both traditional and contemporary, and to showcase the strengths and talents of artists, collections and curators in the United States, Japan and the rest of the world'.

Joe Earle

The Art Institute of Chicago has appointed Madhuvanti Ghose as its first Alsdorf Associate Curator of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan and Islamic Art. Ghose will be responsible for the exhibition, expansion, preservation and research of the institute's holdings in these fields.

Madhuvanti Ghose

The Brooklyn Museum has appointed Joan Cummins as Lisa and Bernard Selz Curator of Asian Art and Ladan Akbarnia as Hagop Kevorkian Associate Curator of Islamic Art. Director Arnold L. Lehman described them as `exceptional scholars and curators who are each uniquely qualified in their respective fields'.
Sotheby's has announced two key appointments at their head office in New York. Yutaka Mino will become Vice Chairman effective 7 May. He will provide support for building relationships with collectors and cultural institutions worldwide. Henry Howard-Sneyd will become Executive Vice President of North American business and retains the title Deputy Chairman Europe and Asia.
Bonhams have set up their Asian headquarters in Hong Kong with specialist departments for Chinese art, contemporary Asian art, jewellery and watches. Highlights of their inaugural auctions, scheduled for 26 May, will include The Green Willow Hall Collection of Jade Carvings.



Gallery News

Vienna
`Archaic and Antique Jades from Old European Collections' are on view from 5 May to 2 June at Galerie Zacke. They include works once owned by the eminent palaeontologist Ralph von Koenigswald and King George I of Greece.

New York
`Masterworks in Bamboo: The Japanese Ikebana Basket' can be seen at Erik Thomsen Asian Art from 15 May to 12 June. The more than twenty works on display – including several by Iizuka Rokansai – are a reflection of the craft at its peak during the Taisho and Showa periods.

Basket with amidako-ami pattern
By Iizuka Rokansai (1890-1958), 1940s
Smoked bamboo
Height 34.3 cm
Erik Thomsen Asian Art

`Sex & Spirit: Cosmic Blessings Through Sexual Representation', comprising shrine pieces, amulets and talismans in the form of genitalia, is on view from 19 to 22 May at the International Tribal and Textile Arts Show. It is curated by Vichai and Lee Chinalai of Chinalai Tribal Antiques, Ltd.

Hong Kong
Lam & Co's second exhibition from 22 May to 2 June, `Ancient Chinese Sculptures', features Han period works which they have spent the past decade assembling. More recent acquisitions include bronze animals and pottery figures from the Neolithic to the Tang period.

Lamp and kneeling figure
China, Han period (206 BCE-CE 220)
Painted pottery
Heights 13 cm and 15 cm
Lam & Co

London
Roger Keverne's `Summer Exhibition of Fine and Rare Chinese Works of Art and Ceramics' opens on 14 June. The extensive selection features jades, bronzes, ceramics, lacquer, cloisonne and scholar's objects dating from the Neolithic period to the 18th century.

Box and cover
China, Jiajing period (1522-66)
Porcelain with underglaze cobalt-blue decoration
Width 29.8 cm
Roger Keverne




International Fairs

International Asian Antique and Art Fair (IAAAF), Hong Kong

The IAAAF returns to the Hong Kong Exhibition Centre this year with over thirty exhibitors from the UK, USA, Taiwan, Thailand and mainland China as well as Hong Kong. Over 1,200 works will be on view at the show, which runs from 26 to 29 May and is primarily sponsored by Lehman Brothers. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Department of Fine Arts and the Art Museum of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, providing funds for their students to attend training programmes and obtain internships at museums and commercial art organizations abroad.
Rossi & Rossi will present a selection of Buddhist bronzes from the Sandor P. Fuss Collection. The works originate from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet and Mongolia, and date from the 7th to the 18th century.

Vajrapani
Mongolia, School of Zanabazar, late 17th/early 18th century
Gilt copper with painted details
Height 19 cm
Rossi & Rossi

White marble furniture from the early Ming period, some believed to be of imperial origin, will be the focus of Gallery Oi Ling's stand. The decoration is said to reflect the subtle influence of the development of metaphysical philosophy and the cosmic view of Song scholars.

Table
China, Ming period (1368-1644)
Marble
Height 88.5 cm, length 176 cm, depth 48 cm
Gallery Oi Ling

Furniture will also be on view at Andy Hei Ltd, but here the items will be in unfinished condition and made from unusual timber, such as an 18th century daybed in boxwood. Large, straight members being rare, this wood is used primarily for small scholar's objects. A 17th century huanghuali altar table with a solid top panel will be on display as well, its heavy proportion and unique scale making it rare in its category.

Altar table
China, 17th century
Huanghuali
Height 90 cm, length 205 cm, depth 46 cm
Andy Hei Ltd

Joyce Gallery Ltd, a specialist in archaic bronzes, stone sculptures, gold and silver wares, and ceramics, will exhibit works from the gallery's private collection that have never been shown to the public. Of particular interest are a Warring States period bronze yan and an early Tang period stone carving of a lion.

Lion
China, 7th century
Stone
Height 43.5 cm
Joyce Gallery Ltd

Christopher Bruckner of the Asian Art Gallery will be showing a selection of objects ranging from Chinese imperial works to Tibetan Buddhist art. Highlights include a collection of cloisonné enamel, among which a Qianlong period tiered brazier decorated with a phoenix is especially remarkable, having perhaps been used in the empress's quarters. By contrast, Robert Hall returns with a selection of fine snuff bottles, many of which have not been on view for some time.
Brian Harkins Oriental Art will showcase Chinese lacquerware. A gold-and-shell inlaid incense container of the 17th century, signed `Qiangli' in seal script, and a 14th century red carved square dish with a `Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove' design, signed `Zhang Cheng', are significant pieces. Paul Champkins Oriental Art's stand will feature a table screen with ivory panel from 18th century China.
Teresa Coleman Fine Arts Ltd will be showing imperial costume and embroidered wall hangings, as well as carved and painted fans and accessories from the 18th and 19th centuries, in addition to a small collection of export paintings and some unusual 16th and 17th century jade carvings.
Ever Arts Gallery's exhibits include huanghuali and zitan furniture of the Ming period, as well as around 100 Ming and Qing scholar's objects. A carved bamboo image of the immortal Liu Hai playing with his toad is a representative piece.

Liu Hai
China, Ming period (1368-1644)
Bamboo
Height 11 cm
Ever Arts Gallery

10 Chancery Lane Gallery will exhibit photographs in addition to more recent sculptures in wood, such as a 2006 work in acacia wood by Wang Keping. Also showing contemporary sculpture will be F2 Gallery from Beijing, with a painted ceramic and steel scorpion by Feng Shu, as well as Grotto Fine Art, whose display will include a work in porcelain by Fiona Wong entitled Turkish Garment.
More traditional sculpture can be seen at My Gallery, for example, a gilt-bronze figure of a seated Guanyin from the Ming period. Another Chinese bronze, a large figural lamp, is one of the highlights on Elite Antique & Works of Art's stand. This piece dates to around the 3rd or 2nd century BCE. Mehmet Hassan will be bringing a wide range of objects, including Chinese gold jewellery from the early Han period to the Liao dynasty and a 9th/10th century silver-gilt ewer from northeast China. The style and form of the ewer are known from ceramics of the late Tang and Liao periods.
Among the galleries bringing Indian jewellery to the show are Samina Inc., with a 17th century mukut (crown) thumb ring in gold kundan from Mughal or Deccani India. Susan Ollemans, who will be showing at Altfield Gallery (18 to 25 May) before the fair, will feature a 19th century turban ornament from Jaipur among her Indian items. She will also be bringing a collection of jade, as well as monochrome and mark-and-period porcelain.
Sundaram Tagore Gallery exhibits art that seeks to go beyond boundaries of many kinds. One such work is Amala I, a creation by Sohan Qadri in ink and dye on paper. Born in India, Qadri's oeuvre reflects his early exposure to Sufism, Hinduism and Sikhism, as well as his connection with Vajrayana Buddhism, with which he remains involved.



Asia International Arts & Antiques Fair (AIAA), Hong Kong

Hong Kong's other international spring fair, AIAA, will be held again at the Asia World-Expo near the airport this year, from 25 to 28 May. Hoping to widen their profile internationally, Carlton Rochell Asian Art will present pieces from the Zimmerman collection as well as around twenty other works of Himalayan, Indian and Southeast Asian art, areas which are finding a growing market among Chinese collectors.

Vajrasattva
Nepal or Tibet,
15th/16th century
Gilt-copper alloy with turquoise inlay
Height 41.3 cm
Carlton Rochell Asian Art

Chris Knapton and Nader Rasti will be showing highlights from the gallery's extensive inventory of Chinese art, though the emphasis will be on their special interest - Song and Ming period jade as well as the currently sought-after carvings of white jade from the Qing period.
Martin Fung Limited will feature scholar's objects in wood, bamboo and bronze, along with a range of cinnabar lacquer.
JingYunTang will present highlights from their inventory of Chinese furniture and a unique collection of naturally formed root brushpots of the Ming and Qing periods, amassed in the last two years.
The fair will also be the venue for Bonhams's first series of Asian art auctions in Hong Kong. The most important piece on offer on 26 May is a Yuan dynasty blue-and-white globular jar estimated at HK$10/15 million.

Brussels Oriental Art Fair (BOAF)

Now in its third year, the BOAF will take place from 6 to 10 June in the Sablon neighbourhood in the heart of Brussels, a location which greatly adds to the fair's attraction. The event is being held concurrently with the Brussels Ancient Art Fair and BRUNEAF, ensuring that the city will become a hub of cultural activity this summer.
Marcel Nies Oriental Art will be exhibiting a new selection of works, highlights of which are a 4th century Gandharan head and a Chola period image of Somaskanda. A range of Himalayan pieces, including bronzes as well as ritual objects, will also form part of their display. Carlo Cristi will be returning to the fair this year with acquisitions from Tibet, and Central and Southeast Asia. Among the bronzes, sculptures, paintings and textiles he will be showing, notable pieces include an 11th century Khmer bronze Hevajra and a thangka of Chakrasamvara from West Tibet.

Hevajra
Khmer, 11th century
Bronze
Height 32 cm
Carlo Cristi

Raimann + Raimann will also be bringing Khmer art, exemplified by a 13th century bronze figure of a standing Shiva with a high yata and an om syllable on his head. The piece was formerly in a private collection in Germany.
Christophe Hioco Gallery will be exhibiting a major collection of ancient Vietnamese art, acquired during Hioco's long residence in Asia. A sandstone bust in the Chien Dang style of Champa art, recognizable as Shiva the destroyer by his frontal eye, is one of the star attractions.
`The Face' will be the theme of Soo Tze Oriental Antiques's exhibition. Ranging from the serene to the wrathful, the works on view reflect a tradition of more than 1,000 years of representational art.

Portrait of a Gelugpa lama
20th century
Papier mache
Soo Tze Oriental Antiques

The staging of three fairs in Brussels presents a unique opportunity for dealers like Renzo Freschi to benefit from cross-cultural interest. Of particular note in his display will be a 17th/early 18th century image of Shakyamuni from Tibet, embossed and fire-gilded, and set with coral, turquoise and other semiprecious stones. Tibetan art will also feature at Studio Arga, as well as a selection of Gandharan and early Indian sculptures, while another part of their presentation will focus on Asian archaeology.
Bertrand de Lavergne will be bringing Chinese snuff bottles, including examples in agate, amber and glass, while Wei Asian Arts will be holding two exhibitions during the fair, one with Chinese belt buckles in various materials from different periods and the other with depictions of foreigners in early Chinese terracotta sculpture. Mehmet Hassan will also be participating with a 6th century marble torso of the Buddha from Shandong province being one of his highlights.

Grosvenor House Art and Antiques Fair, London

Five Asian art dealers will be showing a diverse assembly of works at the event from 14 to 20 June. Susan Ollemans returns with a selection of Indian jewels and Ben Janssens will show early Chinese bronzes and works of art, as well as Indian sculpture.

Equestrian figure, one of a set of six
China, Tang period (618-906)
Pottery
Height 34.3 cm
Ben Janssens Oriental Art

The highlight on Gregg Baker's stand is a two-fold paper screen by Naoiku painted with a bush clover, a recurrent theme in Japanese classical poetry where it symbolizes the ephemerality of life.
Especially noteworthy on S. Marchant & Son's stand is a Kangxi period brushpot painted with seven poems, thought to have been purchased by an English gentleman who travelled with the British royal family to China in the 1920s.



Carre Rive Gauche, Paris

Seven Asian art dealers will be participating in Carre Rive Gauche from 1 to 3 June. Myrna Myers Gallery will offer pieces reminiscent of these themes, and will also show the work of Lois Conner, a photographer `with a discerning eye for China'.



Commentary: Graffiti Art and Copyright

by Owen Morgan, lectures on intellectual property at the University of Auckland.

Graffiti is a worldwide phenomenon. Although it is most visible in the Americas and Europe, Asia is not immune and is now widely accepted as an art form, complete with its own vocabulary. In his commentary, the author concentrates on the narrow but fascinating issue of the ownership of copyright in graffiti.

A `tag' on a wheelie bin