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Ascetic Master
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Ascetic Master

Description Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description The inscription on the back is problematic and does not provide sufficient information to identify this figure. Therefore, the date of the portrait suggested here is based entirely on stylistic considerations. It has all the characteristics of metal images representing teachers that were made in Newar workshops in south-central Tibet, especially Tsang. Particularly noteworthy is the treatment of the robe with finely incised vegetal designs. This portrait comes from the same artistic milieu as several others of the 15th-16th centuries widely dispersed in various collections (e.g., Uhlig 1995, nos. 123-24, 126-27, and 134). The teacher is represented as a "grub thob," or a Tibetan siddha. His hair is tied in an ascetic topknot, and his silver-inlaid, wide eyes emphasize his yogic power. Additionally, he has large, distinctive spiral earrings and wears the crossbelt of a hero ("channavira"), which is often given to the mahasiddhas. He sits on a deer skin atop a lotus but not in the meditation posture. Rather, it is the relaxed, royal ease posture ("maharajalilia") with the right knee raised. His left hand holds the vase of immortality, while the right wields a thunderbolt. The goatee may be the only individual feature of this idealized but handsome portrait.
  • Desire and Devotion: Art from India, Nepal, and Tibet in the John and Berthe Ford Collection. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara; Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham. 2001-2003.
Provenance John and Berthe Ford, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 2002, by gift.
Credit Gift of John and Berthe Ford, 2002

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16th century
bronze with silver inlay
Accession Number
H: 4 9/16 × W: 3 1/16 × D: 2 1/8 in. (11.6 × 7.8 × 5.4 cm)
  • Tibet (Place of Discovery)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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