06. Votive Plaque of Sangpo Bumtri

Tibet, Bon 
Circa 13th Century
Wood with gilding and polychrome
Height: 13½ in. (34.3 cm.)

Sotheby’s, New York, March 23, 2000, no. 9, illus.
European Private collection

Sangpo Bumtri, the creator deity of Bon and one of the ‘Four Transcendent Lords,’ is the god who brings forth the beings inhabiting the world.  He has "neither eyes to see, nor hands to hold, nor ears to hear, or nose to smell, he has only his spirit.”

This handsome wood plaque depicts the deity seated in dhyanasana within a niche, his left hand in dhyana mudra and his right hand holding a dhvaja (banner).  He is clad in a short dhoti, foliate armbands, necklaces, disk earrings, and a three-leaf crown.  His throne has a lotus seat and is ornamented with pairs of lions, rampant vyalas, and makaras with scrolling foliage emerging from their tails on the sides, and garudas at the top and bottom.  The recessed panel with slightly-pointed arched top is encircled by a beaded border.

For an analysis of the etymology of his name see Kvaerne, The Bon Religion of Tibet, Boston, 2001, pp. 26-27.