A bronze figure of Bodhidharma with zitan stand Wanli/Jiajing
Lot 316
A large and rare bronze figure of Bodhidharma Wanli / Jiajing
Sold for HK$ 596,000 (US$ 76,859) inc. premium
Lot Details
A large and rare bronze figure of Bodhidharma
Wanli / Jiajing
The powerfully cast figure depicted standing with his head turned slightly to the right, his serene face with deep eye sockets showing a piercing gaze below the pronounced eyebrows, the beard and areas around the reverse of the head intricately granulated to represent his hair, his right hand raised holding a shoe, his left hand depicted grasping his windswept robe draped in folds decorated with floral hems reaching his bare feet, the original zitan stand naturalistically carved as wavy water with a single reed.
29.4cm high. (2).

Footnotes

  • Large bronze figures of this quality from the late Ming dynasty are rare, and it is particularly rare to find a figure with its original carved zitan stand. The quality of this stand is outstanding, representing some of the highest quality carving on zitan in the late Ming period, and is strongly suggestive of an Imperial commission.

    "For nine years he had remained and nobody knew him;
    Carrying a shoe in hand he went home quietly, without ceremony"

    Bodhidharma is regarded as the first Chinese patriarch of Chan Buddhism who lived during the fifth/sixth century. Despite the lack of robust biographical information, early Chinese texts such as the Luoyang qielan ji or 'Record of the Buddhist Temples of Luoyang' written around 547 by Yang Xuanzhi, recorded Bodhidharma as a monk who traveled from Central Asia to China. Daoxuan wrote in xu gaoseng zhuan or 'Continuation of The Biographies of Eminent Monks' in mid-seventh century, describing Bodhidharma as a monk from southern India who arrived at the Kingdom of Nanyue during the Song period and then turned north to the Kingdom of Wei. Legend also tells that the sage once crossed over the Yangtze River by riding a branch of reed in order to transmit the Mahayana teachings to the north.

    The current example holding a shoe in his hand corresponds to the legend that Bodhidharma was seen three years after his death by the Chinese ambassador Song Yun of Northern Wei. Song Yun is said to have seen him walking while holding a shoe at the Pamir Heights. When asked where he was going, Bodhidharma replied "I am going home". When asked why he was holding his shoe, Bodhidharma answered "You will know when you reach Shaolin monastery. Don't mention that you saw me or you will meet with disaster". Song Yun arrived at the palace later and told the Emperor that he met Bodhidharma on the way. The Emperor did not believe him and had Song Yun arrested for lying. The monks at the Shaolin Temple also claimed Bodhidharma was dead and had been buried in a hill behind the temple. The grave was exhumed and was found to contain a single shoe. The monks said in awe, "Master has gone back home" and prostrated three times.

    The current lot belongs to an ascetic group of late Ming bronze figures which exhibits strong fluid lines and freedom of pose, which are found to be worked with other forms of material such as wood, ivory and rhinohorn. Compare a very similar figure of Bodhidharma carved in boxwood dated to late Ming dynasty in the Palace Museum collection, Beijing, illustrated in Bamboo, Wood, Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carvings. The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 2002, p.15, pl.14. See also another bronze standing figure of a luohan dated to the Ming dynasty, illustrated in The Second Bronze Age. Later Chinese Metalwork, Hong Kong, 1991, no.8.

    明萬曆/嘉靖 青銅達摩一葦渡江像

    達摩高鼻深目,短鬚繞腮,表情嚴肅,側身而立,雙目凝視前方,身著長袍,袒胸露臂,右手托鞋一隻,左手提袈裟一角,袈裟邊隨風而擺,形成自然褶皺,邊緣刻卷雲紋,一腳掌向前,立於紫檀座之上。紫檀座以透雕及浮雕作江河流水,刀法洗練,如行雲流水,而波濤之上飄一根蘆葦,正是達摩「一葦渡江」的形象。

    達摩即菩提達摩,南朝時入中國傳法,為中國禪宗一派的開創人,主張「歸真」、「會為」的佛教修行。關於達摩身世,可靠的文獻史料記載並不多見,東魏文學家楊炫之所撰《洛陽伽藍記》中曾有提及:「時有西域沙門菩提達摩者,波斯國胡人也。起自荒裔,來遊中土。見金盤炫日,光照雲表;寶鐸含風,嚮出天外」,另見唐代道宣之《續高僧傳》中也有記載:「達摩生於南印度婆羅門國,神慧卓朗,一聞千悟,出家後專志大乘佛法,以教授大乘禪法到處度化世人,受其師般若多羅命,來度中國上上之機」。雖然文獻記載較為模糊,但達摩在中國佛教史重要地位毋庸置疑。相傳達摩渡長江時,沒有舟船,只腳踏一根蘆葦悠然北去,達摩逝後葬於熊耳山,三年後,傳有魏使宋雲從西域返魏途中,於聰岭見達摩一手托鞋,翩翩而逝,待眾人返回開棺查驗,發現棺內只剩一鞋,並取此鞋於少林寺供養。

    該達摩像線條刻畫流暢生動,人物生態凝重,其原配紫檀雕座或為宮廷所定製。濶袖長袍為可以模仿晉末南朝時流行於貴族階層的服飾而作。參見北京故宮藏一件明晚期黃楊木雕達摩,其雕刻線條風格與本器基本一致,李久芳編《故宮博物院藏文物珍品全集:竹木牙角雕刻》,香港,2002年,頁15,編號14;另見明代青銅羅漢立像,《The Second Bronze Age. Later Chinese Metalwork》,香港,1991年,編號8。
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