VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Yama-Yami (gShin-rje phyi-sgrub yab-yum)
70.45-165
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This little Tibetan Buddhist figure shows the God of Death, Yama, with his sister Yami. It may not be great artwork but it is a masterpiece of history. It tells us much about itself and about the drama it experienced. See object history.

History of the Object
The protruding eyebrows of Yama and the widely-spaced lotus leaves on the socle show that it was created in the 16th or 17th Century. The red shine of the bronze shows a high percentage of copper, which points to production in eastern Tibet. The figure obviously was in use for quite a long time, because its edges have become rounded by continued handling. After the Chinese march into Tibet, it experienced the suppression of Buddhism: The back of Yami´s Head, and the Hand of Yama who holds her, have been bashed in by the blow of a hammer. This is a typical feature of figures damaged by red guards during the cultural revolution of 1966. Already in 1970, our collector F.K Heller gave this figure to us, which he had acquired in Nepal. This means that in the few years between 1966 and 1970 somebody, most likely a refugee, had taken this figure with him to Nepal. This would be a typical course of events, too as many Tibetan artworks in western collections have left Tibet in the luggage of refugees, who later had to sell their belongings to support themselves.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Bronze 
Measurements
Width 6,5 cm. Height 9 cm.  
Creator name
unknown 
Creator date
unknown 
Where it was made
China; Tibet 
Geography
China; Tibet 
Time period
AD 16th century ~ AD 17th century 
Creation date
16th Century; or 17th Century 
Function
Altar Figure for Tibetan-Buddhist Worship 
Acquisition
The figure is a gift from F.K. Heller. See our Relief of Agni, No 77.20.1, for Details about Heller. 
Copyright
Saal/Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg 
Museum
Museum of Ethnology, Hamburg 
Credit line
Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg, Inv.-Nr. 70.45:165 

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