Enduring Beauty: Early Incarnation of the Savior Saint of Tibetan Buddhism; Newar Masterpiece in Wood for the Tibetan Empire
Monograph to accompany exhibition at TEFAF Maastricht 2023
Text by Chino Roncoroni and Iwona Tenzing
Hardcover, HUV-LED offset printing
47 color photographs
This monograph is dedicated to an extraordinarily rare wood sculpture from the Roncoroni collection. Representing Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, it comes to us from perhaps as far back as the fifth century (carbon-14 testing dates it to 430–650 with 95.4% probability) and is the earliest known wood sculpture created by master Newar wood carvers under Licchavi rule for patrons in the Tibetan Empire.
Besides its remarkable and sophisticated elegance—the aim of which was to translate spiritual perfection into aesthetic terms—the Roncoroni Bodhisattva is also very important for the history of Nepali-Licchavi art, of which it is the earliest known example, for Tibetan history, and for Buddhist art in general. In the monograph we suggest that it is the earliest surviving example that could have served as the prototype for the Phagpa Lokeshvara, one of the most important icons in Tibet.
Tenzing Asian Art’s connection to the sculpture spans several decades via one of its principals, Chino Roncoroni, who first encountered the sculpture in the early 1980s in Paris. His efforts to purchase it at that time were thwarted, but he never forgot it. Twenty-six years later, the sculpture reappeared at Christie’s Paris. Chino immediately recognized it and suspected it was made by Newars of the Kathmandu Valley in the fifth or sixth century—their interpretation of the Gupta style—and not a later copy. This time he succeeded in acquiring the sculpture, and carbon-14 dating later confirmed his thesis. Now, four decades after Chino first encountered this masterpiece, he and Tenzing Asian Art are thrilled to introduce it to the world.
Catalog to accompany exhibition at TEFAF Maastricht 2022
Text by Chino Roncoroni and Iwona Tenzing, with essays by Dr. Amy Heller and Bruce W. Carpenter
Hardcover, HUV-LED offset printing
48 full-page color photographs
This publication offers a visual repertoire of Buddhist sculptures, paintings, and ritual implements from the Himalayas. The artifacts, dating from the 7th to the 15th centuries, exemplify the pinnacle of Buddhist art and communicate the beauty of Buddhist practice. Imagery is a means to enlightenment in esoteric Buddhism; the pieces in this collection serve as objects of devotion, as visual metaphors, and as stories about human relationships.
These masterworks also express the diversity, creativity, and longevity of Buddhist traditions over centuries of exchange between India, Nepal, China, and Tibet. Particularly evident is the far-reaching influence of the Pala Empire (in the present-day Indian states of Bihar and West Bengal) from 750 to 1200. Buddhism flourished under the Pala kings, leading to the establishment of prominent monastic universities and a cohesive artistic style. Pala artistic traditions and cultural influence were spread throughout Asia by students returning home from these Buddhist centers, and later by Indian Buddhist monks fleeing Muslim incursions into their homeland. By the early 13th century, Buddhism was mostly extinguished in India, but the Pala influence lived on and can be seen in many of the works presented in Awakening.
Also palpable in the collection is the great influence of the Newar, indigenous people of Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley. Their master artisans integrated various influences to create their own distinctive style, a new and lasting form of Himalayan Buddhist art. Renowned for their mastery of fire gilding and the vitality and elegance of their figures, Newar artists were prized throughout the Himalayas and at the imperial courts of the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. Many of the works presented in Awakening exemplify their artistic mastery and the imprint they left across the continent.
The Great Heritage: Himalayan art through the eyes of art dealers Chino Roncoroni and Iwona Tenzing.
The authors offer their insights on the artistic origins and styles of Himalayan art and its historical context, but rather than a standard scholarly approach, the book provides a direct visual learning experience. It includes a dazzling catalog of full- page color photographs of more than 200 works of art.
The pieces in the catalog include manuscripts; paintings; bronze, stone, and wood sculptures; ritual implements; and textiles. They date from the 6th through the 15th centuries and represent.
The items presented are the best examples of each school that the authors have come across in their decades of experience. All are currently in either the collections of international museums or prestigious private collections.