About this object

Top half of a badly damaged hollow cast gilt figure. Head crushed and fingers broken off, additional ornaments that are likely to have been attached to the remaining brackets and lugs are missing, as is the figure's plaited and coiled hair. From the position of the arms it is possible that this could be a figure of Virupa, the great tantric practitioner (although the figure seems to wear the jewels of the Bodhisattva). His right hand stretches out, pointing upwards in the arresting the sun mudra. This probably represents the story of Virupa holding the position of the sun after an innkeeper asks him to pay his bill. Virupa tells the innkeeper that he will settle, when the sun's shadow reaches a certain point. The local King eventually settles the debt. His left hand is in the teaching mudra.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Religion
  • Culture
    Kalmyk
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Europe: Eastern Europe: Russia: Kalmykia: Yashaltinsky: Baga Tugtun
  • Date made
    19th Century
  • Materials
    Alloy Copper; Gilt Metal; Pigment
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Purchased From Count Bobrinskoy
  • Collector
    Alexei Bobrinskoy
  • Place collected
    Europe: Eastern Europe: Russia: Kalmykia: Yashaltinsky: Baga Tugtun
  • Date collected
    1919
  • Measurements
    180 mm x 205 mm x 90 mm; 7 1/16 in x 8 1/16 in x 3 9/16 in
  • Note
    Note reads 'Very badly damaged by Russian troops in 1919' and in a letter from the donor 'Count Bobrinskoy' the location of acquistion is noted as 'Bagatuktun in the district of Bolshe-Derbet in the province of Stavropol'. He goes on to say in the letter that, 'The statue had been badly battered by Communist soldiers in 1919 when they took these places from the Kalmuks who, as you know, are Buddhists. The Buddhist temple was destroyed and the holy statues scattered on the floor. I received this one from a friend who happened to visit the place some time later, and he picked it up and gave it to me. I had it ever since, and Col. Bailey saw it here. It is good proof of Communists' atrocities and persecution of all religions'.
    The donor is likely to be Count Alexei Bobrinskoy (1893-1971), a Russian noble descending from Catherine the Great's son by Count Grigory Orlov - Aleksey Grigorievich Bobrinsky (1762-1813). The majority of his family fled Russian during the Revoltion when their family business was nationalised.
    A note in the archive records that the statue was filled with 'sacred herbs' in 1967 (the statue is now empty) and that there was also a certificate in Russian by General Denikin's staff indicating where the looted temple was'. This certificate is no longer in the archive.
    Written by Emma Martin.
  • Related people
    Irma Bailey (facilitated purchase); Alexei Bobrinskoy (Collector)

Where is this object from?

Object view = Humanities
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