admin | January 12, 2015
The interest in Buddhist art has been growing for the past decade and has reached a point of intensity not enjoyed in many a generation, perhaps many a century. The current passion for items of Asian religious art, according to Dr. Robert R. Bigler, scholar, collector and dealer, centers on the intricate and lovely gilt metal icons of faith that were produced in China and Tibet in the early decades of the Ming period. Seen less frequently are statues of the Buddha and the pantheon of gods that were created during the Yongle (1403-24) and Xuande (1426-35) reigns.
Thirty-three remarkable metal sculptures forming the exhibition Before Yongle: Chinese and Tibeto-Chinese Buddhist Metal Images from the 13th and 14th Century will on view during Asia Week. It is curated by Dr. Robert R. Bigler and is accompanied by a catalog on the historical development of metal sculpture in the “Tibeto-Chinese” style that is based on Vajrayana Buddhism.
The history surrounding the creation of Buddhist objects is fascinating, offering insights into the social history Asian history long been buried in textbooks. Dr. Bigler states the evolution of the Tibeto-Chinese style originates with Khubilai Khan (1215-94). An adopter of the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, he declared Vajrayana the state religion when he ascended to the Chinese imperial throne. Dr. Bigler suggests that the large number of Buddhist sculptures in the Tibeto-Chinese style may have been produced under imperial patronage of the Mongols to promote the foreign faith in China. As time went on, the style was further evolved during the beginning of the Ming dynasty.
One of four co-organizers of the Basel Ancient Art Fair, Dr. Bigler has a Ph. D. in European History of Art. he studied Asian History of Art and Egyptology at the University of Zurich before embarking on his career. He started his business in 1994 and since then has earned a reputation for scholarship and integrity in his field.
Before Yongle: Chinese and Tibeto-Chinese Buddhist Metal Images from the 13th and 14th Century takes place at Dickinson Roundell Gallery, 19 East 66th Street. If your would like to communicate with him before, please visit http://www.bigler-finearts.com, or contact him by email at Robert@bigler-finearts.com.