Christie's Indian and Southeast Asian Art auction was highlighted yesterday (September 12) by a stunning thangka of the Green Tara.
For the uninitiated, a thangka is a Tibetan silk painting with embroidery that is often adorned with Buddhist imagery. Tara refers to a female bodhisattva who can be portrayed in a number of colours, with green used to represent all forms of meditation. She is normally depicted as a beautiful young woman in any one of two hundred different meditation forms.
The thangka at auction was created circa the 13th or 14th century. It is considered particularly important as it depicts the Green Tara, the Five Buddhas, the 21 Taras of the Suryagupta tradition and the Eight Taras removing the Eight Fears. It is also the earliest known representation of the Green Tara in association with the 21 Taras and the Eight Fears.
Remaining in the same great condition since it was first acquired in 1933, the piece sold for $1.7m against a $600,000 high estimate - an impressive 193.7% increase on valuation.
Another thangka appeared as the auction's third highest-selling lot, selling for $1m against a $400,000-600,000 estimate. Depicting Amitabha - a celestial Buddha - at the centre, it was created in the second half of the 13th century and featured the 127 buddhas, who were arranged by colour and identified by an inscription at the bottom.
Both pieces originate from the collection of Dr Eugenio Ghersi, one of the last great explorers of Tibet, who documented numerous artworks in the Himalayas before they were inevitably destroyed.
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