An elegant ritual conch with an attractive deep-green patina, decorated with scalloped motifs and lotus petals.
Conches of this type were made either as vessels for pouring holy water (lustration) or as sacred musical instruments.

For two related conches, see cats. no. 154a and 154b in Emma Bunker and Douglas Latchford, Adoration and Glory: The Golden Age of Khmer Art, Chicago: Art Media Resources, 2004.

BRONZE RITUAL CONCH

Temporarily Withdrawn/Reserved

• From the Estate of a private English collector. Acquired in the 1970’s.

• Jonathan Tucker & Antonia Tozer, 2019, acquired from the above

Photo credit : Studio Asselberghs – Frédéric Dehaen

For two related conches, see cats. no. 154a and 154b in Emma Bunker and Douglas Latchford, Adoration and Glory: The Golden Age of Khmer Art, Chicago: Art Media Resources, 2004.

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Mahisha, who had achieved great powers through the practice of austerities and was tormenting the world, could not be stopped by Shiva, Vishnu, or any of the other Hindu gods. In order to defeat him, the other gods lent their powers to Durga to augment her own. After a fierce battle, she subdued Mahisha and saved the world; her defeat of the demon is indicated by the head of the bull upon which she stands. Durga’s assumption of Vishnu’s powers is shown by his attributes which she holds in her hands: the conch shell (sankha), the wheel (cakra), and the ball symbolising the earth (mahi). Vishnu’s club (gada) is below her missing lower left hand.

The generous modelling of the body and the naturalist treatment of the face ending in a  jata-mukuta hairstyle date the sculpture with certainty to the tenth century, without being able to relate it to a particular style.

Lovely representation of the Goddess Durga  who is one of the more powerful forms taken by the Hindu goddess Parvati. She is the Hindu goddess of protection, vengeance, and victory and is often described as the consort of Shiva. In this sculpture, Durga is shown vanquishing the buffalo-demon Mahisha (Durga Mahishasuramardini). Mahisha, who had achieved great powers through the practice of austerities and was tormenting the world, could not be stopped by Shiva, Vishnu, or any of the other Hindu gods. In order to defeat him, the other gods lent their powers to Durga to augment her own. After a fierce battle, she subdued Mahisha and saved the world; her defeat of the demon is indicated by the head of the bull upon which she stands. Durga’s assumption of Vishnu’s powers is shown by his attributes which she holds in her hands: the conch shell (sankha), the wheel (cakra), and the ball symbolising the earth (mahi). Vishnu’s club (gada) is below her missing lower left hand.

The generous modelling of the body and the naturalist treatment of the face ending in a  jata-mukuta hairstyle date the sculpture with certainty to the tenth century, without being able to relate it to a particular style.

Goddess Durga Mahishasuramardini

Temporarily Withdrawn/Reserved

• Private Belgian collection, Brussels, 2013

• GRUSENMEYER Karim & Isabelle, WOLINER Damien, A World of Sculptures, Brussels, 2016, n°36, p.136

Photo credit : Studio Asselberghs – Frédéric Dehaen

In this sculpture, Durga is shown vanquishing the buffalo-demon Mahisha (Durga Mahishasuramardini). Mahisha, who had achieved great powers through the practice of austerities and was tormenting the world, could not be stopped by Shiva, Vishnu, or any of the other Hindu gods. In order to defeat him, the other gods lent their powers to Durga to augment her own. After a fierce battle, she subdued Mahisha and saved the world; her defeat of the demon is indicated by the head of the bull upon which she stands. Durga’s assumption of Vishnu’s powers is shown by his attributes which she holds in her hands: the conch shell (sankha), the wheel (cakra), and the ball symbolising the earth (mahi). Vishnu’s club (gada) is below her missing lower left hand.

The generous modelling of the body and the naturalist treatment of the face ending in a  jata-mukuta hairstyle date the sculpture with certainty to the tenth century, without being able to relate it to a particular style.

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Head of Buddha

Temporarily Withdrawn/Reserved

• Private English collection, 1969

• Spink & Son, London, 1978

• Spink & Son, London, 1978, catalogue n° 32

Photo credit : Studio Asselberghs – Frédéric Dehaen

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Standing Vishnu

• Singaporean Collection, before 1994 English collection, 2016

Belle et sensible représentation du dieu Vishnu, identifiable à ses quatre bras tenant une roue, une conque, un lotus et une massue. La tête porte un diadème orfévré noué sur l’arrière, entourant un couvre chignon. Il a la taille ceinte d’un sampot finement plissé et court, échancré sous l’ombilic, et remontant haut sur les hanches et le dos avec un ample drapé en poche sur la cuisse gauche. Les drapés s’achèvent en un de nœud papillon au niveau des reins. L’ensemble est maintenu par une ceinture. On notera la présence d’un long tenon encore visible sous la base servant initialement à fixer la sculpture sur son socle.

Due diligence:
The Art Loss Register, London, carried out a search on this object and declared it matchless. A document of proof will accompany the object.

Photo credit : Studio Asselberghs – Frédéric Dehaen

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Legend by Claudine Bautze-Picron

Shiva is ithyphallic, a very characteristic feature noted in other early depictions.2 (Fig. 4 – see ill. in end notes). The linga is carved at a rather low position, which lets the lower part of the belly free whereas in most known cases, it reaches indeed the navel. The imposing lower part of the belly below the navel reminds one of the potbellied Yaksha from Parkham, some 22 km south of Mathura, with which further features are shared (Figs. 5 & 6)3 a broad and flat loincloth attached at the thick girdle falls in the back over the long pleated skirt and similar pleats are to be seen, incised, on the back of the Yaksha. The loincloth was knotted on the left hip, with the long and heavy extremities falling along the leg which are now broken away. The cloth of the skirt forms very narrow circular folds on the right thigh, which end vertically on the left thigh, a feature also noted on the Parkham image which has been variously dated between 150 B.C. and the first century B.C.4 As in any nascent iconography, rules are not fixed and the images betray attempts or experiments made in various directions; some Shiva images integrate the depiction of a lion, other ones of a bull, some wear the skin of a feline, an element which the artist apparently chose to hint at, with a circular face and paws covering the right knee5 (Fig. 7 – see ill. in end notes).

The jewels adorning the deity, i.e. the flat V-shaped necklace, the numerous rings forming a broad bracelet and the heavy pendants of the belt, which fall on the right leg, are all found in early carvings, for instance, those from the balustrade of the Bharhut stûpa. The god holds his right hand at the level of the shoulder whereas the left one was probably lying above the knot of the loincloth carved on his left hip: again, this is a position which is inherited from the Yaksha iconography, and which will be preserved up to the Kushan period in the images of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas.

The female image is much more damaged being broken at the level of the waist. Two long braids fall on the waist in the back, and as on the back of the Parkham Yaksha, the flat belt lies above the hips and the long skirt has concentric pleats which are carved below the buttock. Her left hand lying above the hip is also a classical gesture displayed in this early period6 – and she most probably held the right hand at the level of her shoulder. The thin belt is simply knotted and lies above the very broad and flat one which covers the hips; the loincloth falling across the thighs is knotted on the left hip: similar ones are also noted in images from the second century B.C. up to the beginning of our era.7

Both deities stand above a square and solid base; carved in the round, they show very massive forms, another feature typical of the pre-Kushan period where artists did not yet dare to carve through the stone, for instance between the legs. These forms are, however, not rigid: movement is introduced in the legs with the left one slightly bent and put forward and with the swaying attitude of Umâ, a feature which reminds us that Shiva is driven by a deep feeling of creation. Fundamental elements of the god iconography are here displayed, like his ithyphallism and his personality combining male and female, letting the devotee feel and acknowledge the strong and universal divine presence.

1 S.H. Siddiqi, “Two newly discovered pre-Kuāna Sculptures from Rikeśa (Uttar Pradesh)”, in: U.P. Shah & Krishna Deva (eds), Journal of the Indian Society of Oriental Art, special Number: Dr. Moti Chandra Commemoration Volume, 1978, pp. 76-80 & pl. XXV. The male figure is reproduced by Kreisel 1986, fig. 70 and Srinivasan 1984, pl. 23.
2 Gerd Kreisel, Die Śiva-Bildwerke der Mathurā-Kunst, Ein Beitrag zur frühhinduistischen Ikonographien, Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden GmbH, 1986, figs. 70-76 & pp. 91-92; Doris Meth Srinivasan, “Significance and Scope of Pre-Kuāna Śaivite Iconography”, in: Michael W. Meister (ed.), Discourses on Śiva, Proceedings of a Symposium on the Nature of Religious Imagery, Bombay: Vakils, Feffer & Simons Ltd., 1984, pp. 32-46.

3 The Yaksha bears the name of Manibhadra in the inscription incised on it: Gritli von Mitterwallner, “Yakas of Ancient Mathurā”, in: Doris Meth Srinivasan (ed.), Mathurā, The Cultural Heritage, New Delhi: Manohar/American Institute of Indian Studies, 1989, pp. 368-382, pls. 35.I-II & pp. 368-371. Sonya Rhie Quintanilla, History of early Stone Sculpture at Mathura, ca. 150 B.C.-100 A.D., Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2007, figs. 15-17 & pp. 26-31. Compare also to Quintanilla 2007: figs. 94-95 for the treatment of the back and for the necklace.

4 Quintanilla 2007 dates the image “ca. 150 B.C.” and Mitterwallner in the 1st Cent. B.C. This feature of the garment is also noted around 100 B.C. at Bharhut for instance (Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, La sculpture de Bharhut, Paris: Vanoest, 1956, figs. 16bis-19, e.g).
5 See N.P. Joshi, “Early Forms of Śiva”, in: Michael W. Meister (ed.), Discourses on Śiva, Proceedings of a Symposium on the Nature of Religious Imagery, Bombay: Vakils, Feffer & Simons Ltd., 1984, pp. 47-61.

6 For instance at Bharhut: Coomaraswamy 1956, figs. 46-49.
7 Quintanilla 2007, figs. 39-40, 42, 271, for instance; Coomaraswamy 1956, figs. 1-21, 37, 40-42, 44-45, 48-49 for the narrow belt knotted on the front.

Shiva and Umâ

Han Coray (Zurich) before 1930 (only Shiva)

• Anthony Greville-Bell until 1940

• Estate of the late Patricia Withofs, acquired in 1985

• Offered for sale by Spink and Son, London, 1994

Jonathan Tucker, An Important Group of Sculptures from India, Southeast Asia and China, London 2015

GRUSENMEYER Karim & Isabelle, WOLINER Damien, A World of Sculptures, Brussels, 2016, n°14, pp.4-7

Legend by Claudine Bautze-Picron

Shiva is ithyphallic, a very characteristic feature noted in other early depictions.2 (Fig. 4 – see ill. in end notes). The linga is carved at a rather low position, which lets the lower part of the belly free whereas in most known cases, it reaches indeed the navel. The imposing lower part of the belly below the navel reminds one of the potbellied Yaksha from Parkham, some 22 km south of Mathura, with which further features are shared (Figs. 5 & 6)3 a broad and flat loincloth attached at the thick girdle falls in the back over the long pleated skirt and similar pleats are to be seen, incised, on the back of the Yaksha. The loincloth was knotted on the left hip, with the long and heavy extremities falling along the leg which are now broken away. The cloth of the skirt forms very narrow circular folds on the right thigh, which end vertically on the left thigh, a feature also noted on the Parkham image which has been variously dated between 150 B.C. and the first century B.C.4 As in any nascent iconography, rules are not fixed and the images betray attempts or experiments made in various directions; some Shiva images integrate the depiction of a lion, other ones of a bull, some wear the skin of a feline, an element which the artist apparently chose to hint at, with a circular face and paws covering the right knee5 (Fig. 7 – see ill. in end notes).

The jewels adorning the deity, i.e. the flat V-shaped necklace, the numerous rings forming a broad bracelet and the heavy pendants of the belt, which fall on the right leg, are all found in early carvings, for instance, those from the balustrade of the Bharhut stûpa. The god holds his right hand at the level of the shoulder whereas the left one was probably lying above the knot of the loincloth carved on his left hip: again, this is a position which is inherited from the Yaksha iconography, and which will be preserved up to the Kushan period in the images of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas.

The female image is much more damaged being broken at the level of the waist. Two long braids fall on the waist in the back, and as on the back of the Parkham Yaksha, the flat belt lies above the hips and the long skirt has concentric pleats which are carved below the buttock. Her left hand lying above the hip is also a classical gesture displayed in this early period6 – and she most probably held the right hand at the level of her shoulder. The thin belt is simply knotted and lies above the very broad and flat one which covers the hips; the loincloth falling across the thighs is knotted on the left hip: similar ones are also noted in images from the second century B.C. up to the beginning of our era.7

Both deities stand above a square and solid base; carved in the round, they show very massive forms, another feature typical of the pre-Kushan period where artists did not yet dare to carve through the stone, for instance between the legs. These forms are, however, not rigid: movement is introduced in the legs with the left one slightly bent and put forward and with the swaying attitude of Umâ, a feature which reminds us that Shiva is driven by a deep feeling of creation. Fundamental elements of the god iconography are here displayed, like his ithyphallism and his personality combining male and female, letting the devotee feel and acknowledge the strong and universal divine presence.

1 S.H. Siddiqi, “Two newly discovered pre-Kuāna Sculptures from Rikeśa (Uttar Pradesh)”, in: U.P. Shah & Krishna Deva (eds), Journal of the Indian Society of Oriental Art, special Number: Dr. Moti Chandra Commemoration Volume, 1978, pp. 76-80 & pl. XXV. The male figure is reproduced by Kreisel 1986, fig. 70 and Srinivasan 1984, pl. 23.
2 Gerd Kreisel, Die Śiva-Bildwerke der Mathurā-Kunst, Ein Beitrag zur frühhinduistischen Ikonographien, Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden GmbH, 1986, figs. 70-76 & pp. 91-92; Doris Meth Srinivasan, “Significance and Scope of Pre-Kuāna Śaivite Iconography”, in: Michael W. Meister (ed.), Discourses on Śiva, Proceedings of a Symposium on the Nature of Religious Imagery, Bombay: Vakils, Feffer & Simons Ltd., 1984, pp. 32-46.

3 The Yaksha bears the name of Manibhadra in the inscription incised on it: Gritli von Mitterwallner, “Yakas of Ancient Mathurā”, in: Doris Meth Srinivasan (ed.), Mathurā, The Cultural Heritage, New Delhi: Manohar/American Institute of Indian Studies, 1989, pp. 368-382, pls. 35.I-II & pp. 368-371. Sonya Rhie Quintanilla, History of early Stone Sculpture at Mathura, ca. 150 B.C.-100 A.D., Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2007, figs. 15-17 & pp. 26-31. Compare also to Quintanilla 2007: figs. 94-95 for the treatment of the back and for the necklace.

4 Quintanilla 2007 dates the image “ca. 150 B.C.” and Mitterwallner in the 1st Cent. B.C. This feature of the garment is also noted around 100 B.C. at Bharhut for instance (Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, La sculpture de Bharhut, Paris: Vanoest, 1956, figs. 16bis-19, e.g).
5 See N.P. Joshi, “Early Forms of Śiva”, in: Michael W. Meister (ed.), Discourses on Śiva, Proceedings of a Symposium on the Nature of Religious Imagery, Bombay: Vakils, Feffer & Simons Ltd., 1984, pp. 47-61.

6 For instance at Bharhut: Coomaraswamy 1956, figs. 46-49.
7 Quintanilla 2007, figs. 39-40, 42, 271, for instance; Coomaraswamy 1956, figs. 1-21, 37, 40-42, 44-45, 48-49 for the narrow belt knotted on the front.

Photo credit : Studio Asselberghs – Frédéric Dehaen

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Buddha (sheltered by Mucalinda ?)

New Arrival

Photo credit : Studio Asselberghs – Frédéric Dehaen

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Miniature sculpture representing a Green Tara

New Arrival

Photo credit : Studio Asselberghs – Frédéric Dehaen

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Stele of Padmapani

• Spink & Son Ltd, London, 21 October 1980

Photo credit : Studio Asselberghs – Frédéric Dehaen

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Stele of Vishnu

• Spanish collection, acquired by the father on 30 September 1969, Oriental Antiquities Ltd, London

Photo credit : Studio Asselberghs – Frédéric Dehaen

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MEDITATING BUDDHA

Photo credit : Studio Asselberghs – Frédéric Dehaen

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