Rossi & Rossi to Offer Earliest Known Tibetan Mandala at TEFAF Maastricht 2014

  • LONDON, United Kingdom
  • /
  • December 18, 2013

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Vajradhâtu màndala, Tibet, 11th century. Distemper on cotton. 125 x 125 cm. Rossi & Rossi Stand no. 166 at TEFAF Maastricht 2014.

What is probably the earliest known Tibetan màndala and a masterpiece of Mongolian art are among the major Asian works of art to be exhibited by Rossi & Rossi at TEFAF Maastricht at the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre (MECC) from 14 to 23 March 2014, Stand 166.  Rossi & Rossi specialise in both Indian and Himalayan art, focusing particularly on classical and contemporary Tibetan art.

The 11th century Vajradhatu màndala is not only a very rare and early example from Tibet but is also of monumental size, measuring 125 x 125 cm.  Offered for sale for $2.2 million, it has been in a private European collection since the 1980s, was exhibited in 2003 and 2004 in Himalayas: An Aesthetic Adventure at The Art Institute of Chicago and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., and has been extensively published.  A màndala, literally a circle, is a spiritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism representing the Universe and is used as an aid to meditation and a teaching tool. 


This important and complex example represents the Adamantine Sphere (Vajradhatu) in which the cosmic Buddhas were arranged by Indian tantric schools.  The essential feature is a central palace with ornaments and symbols, occupied by a Lord with his circle and protected by a belt of vajras (thunderbolts) and a fire ditch which also protects the abodes of the three main cosmic Buddhas.  Each Buddha, except the central one, is surrounded by four of the Sixteen Vajra Bodhisattvas.  The corners of the inner palace are occupied by four goddesses, between the walls of the inner and outer palaces there are four groups of four more, and four guardians occupy the outside doors.  Five men involved in the ritual of consecration of the painting, an officiating lama and four donors, are portrayed in the bottom left corner outside the external ditch of flames.  This màndala represents possibly the earliest extant painted rendition of Buddhist symbolism and Indian conceptions and aesthetics laid down in the Sanskrit texts translated into Tibetan in the 8th-9th and 11th-14th centuries.

Rossi & Rossi was founded in London in 1985 by Anna Maria Rossi who has been active in the field of Asian art for some 40 years.  In 1988 she was joined by her son Fabio who had studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).  Together, they have established a reputation as leading dealers in traditional Indian and Himalayan art, early Chinese and Central Asian textiles and works of art as well as contemporary Asian art, particularly Tibetan.  Their deep interest in both the art and culture of the past and the vibrant and innovative art being produced by Asian artists today is reflected in their international reputation for handling only the finest pieces.  Among their clients are such institutions as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Tokyo National Museum as well as distinguished private collectors.  Contemporary collections include The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art along with The White Rabbit Foundation in Australia, the Liverpool Museum, the Burger Collection, Hong Kong and the Devi Foundation, India.

Rossi & Rossi have published a number of scholarly works and regularly stage specialist and ground-breaking exhibitions.  The gallery has been in its current premises on the ground floor of an elegant 18th century townhouse in the centre of Mayfair since 2007, enabling them to give greater prominence to contemporary Asian art while continuing to show the traditional Tibetan and Himalayan art for which they are renowned.  In 2013, Fabio Rossi opened a new space in an industrial building in the Wong Chuk Hang area of Hong Kong Island, where he shows both classical and contemporary works.

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