|Tibet, 18th century|
This very fine Tibetan oracle's mirror frame is of gilded (gold-plated) copper intricately repoussed in medium and high relief.
The frame is decorated by a pair of skeletons known as citipati. The elongation of their arms and legs is exaggerated emphasising their skeletal, bony nature. The skulls also have exaggerated mouths filled with teeth. They dance amid scrolling, curving foliage neatly incised with sinuous decoration. The foliage about the skulls is transformed into exploding flames that reach above the frame and into the centre. A polished steel plate that would have served as the mirror could be attached from the back to cover the centre. Such plates were clipped on to the backs of such frames as needed.
An oracle's mirror is not unlike a crystal ball in terms of function. The medium or oracle peers into the polished steel surface of the mirror and divines hidden signs and future events. Such mirrors were worn by oracles as breast plates. Hence, the reverse of the frame here is fitted with two pairs of copper lugs to allow it to be attached to chest belts so that the mirror could be worn.
Citipati are considered the lords of the cemetery in Tibetan lore and were regarded by Tibetans as benevolent. One is female and the other is male. They serve as visible reminders that everything worldly is impermanent. The citipati are supposed to perform a skeleton ritual dance in the cemetery during which they blow Tibetan long horns. The dance was replicated in monasteries once in summer and again in winter by monks wearing skull masks to symbolise the cycle of life and death. Citipati often are represented on ritual cloth paintings (thangkas) but their sculptural representation is less common.
|Location of Origin: Asia|
|Medium/Materials: glass, gold, copper|
|Dimensions: height: 20cm|
|Primary Classification: Asian Art|
|See Monasterios (2000, p. 110) for a related example of an oracle's mirror frame decorated with a pair of citipati, also attributed to the eighteenth century.|
The frame here is in excellent condition. The age is very evident. It is a dynamic and elegant item.
References:Heller, A., Tibetan Art: Tracing the Development of Spiritual Ideals and Art in Tibet, 600-2000 AD, Jaca Books, 2000.Lipton, B., & N.D. Ragnubs, Treasures of Tibetan Art: Collections of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, Oxford University Press, 1996.Monasterios y Lamas del Tibet, Fundacion 'la Caixa', Barcelona, 2000.Thurman, R., & D. Weldon, Sacred Symbols: The Ritual Art of Tibet, Sotheby's/Rossi & Rossi, 1999.
|Provenance: UK art market|
|Price:||Item has been sold.|
|Offered By:||Items for sale from dealers we worked with previously|
121 Mount Vernon, Boston, MA 02108 USA
Item has been sold.
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