A 'gaoshan' figure of Vajraputra, by Yang Yuxuan Early Qing dynasty
Lot 320
A 'gaoshan' figure of Vajraputra Early Qing dynasty, signed Yuxuan
HK$ 600,000 - 800,000
US$ 77,000 - 100,000
Lot Details
A 'gaoshan' figure of Vajraputra
Early Qing dynasty, signed Yuxuan
Exquisitely carved and depicted in a relaxing seated position, the luohan depicted with left hand holding rosary beads resting over the right and leaning against rockworks, his semi-bald head and serene visage framed by finely incised moustache, beard and hair as well as flanked by a pair of pendulous earlobes with circular earrings, adorned in a long and loose monastic robe draped over the shoulders with intricately incised foliate scrolls at the hems, revealing the right foot wearing open-toed sandals, a further acquiescent Buddhist lion cub resting on all four in recumbent position with its head upturned to the right gazing on the figure, fitted textile stand.
8.7cm wide.

Footnotes

  • Vajraputra is one of the eighteen luohans, representative of freedom from inhibition and playfulness. He is often portrayed with a Buddhist lion cub at the side. Vajraputra literally translates as 'man of cats'. Legend has it that Vajraputra was a lion hunter before converting to Buddhism. Upon attaining enlightenment, a lion cub approached him playfully, appeared to be showing gratitute for renouncing his sinful ways of killing lions. Vajraputra is therefore always depicted inseparable from the little lion cub.

    The use of soapstones or shoushanshi goes back as far as the Song dynasty. The poem 'Shoushan' by the Song dynasty scholar Huang Gan is the earliest recorded treatise on soapstones, "the rock suffers from the hatchet and chisel for its beautiful veins". Liang Kejia, another Song dynasty scholar, wrote in the local Fuzhou gazette Chunxi Sanshan Zhi, "the exquisite ones [carved soapstones] would be shipped to Bianliang [capital of Song Dynasty] as tributes and turned to playthings in the Imperial Palace... The bigger ones would be displayed on scholar desks for the appreciation of high officials and social elites; the smaller ones would be enjoyed in the hands of the literati.

    Yang Xuan, alias Yuxuan, also known as the 'Master Soapstone Carver of Minzhong', was born in Zhangpu, Fujian province, and lived most of his life in Fuzhou during the early Qing dynasty. He was later commissioned to work in the Palace workshops during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor, where many of his works graced the Imperial collection. It is recorded in the Jianpu district gazette during the Kangxi period, that Yang Yuxuan specialised in stone carvings, particularly carvings of figures, animals and vessels. His carvings were considered exquisite, and it was said that every living soul wanted to acquire one of his works. The records of Min Xiaoji by Zhou Lianggong mentions that, "The excellence of his [Yang Yuxuan] knife work is the equivalent of that done by supernatural beings".

    For other examples of soapstone figural works by Yang Yuxuan sold at auction, see two shan bodong figures of Pindola, one from the Q Collection, another from the Conner Prairie Museum, Indiana, sold in these rooms, 25 May 2011, lots 258 and 366. For additional information on Yang Yuxuan and his carvings, see Tsang and Moss, Arts from the Scholar's Studio, Hong Kong, 1986, cat. no.45.

    清早期 壽山高山石雕伐闍羅弗多羅尊者

    陰刻「玉璇」草書款

    壽山高山石質溫潤,呈紅、白、棕色。羅漢卧在石上,面相慈祥,手執佛串,笑對少獅,悠然自得。壽山匠細緻刻劃袈裟衣理,人物及獅子造形生動,羅漢背刻有「玉璇」草書款。原配織繡底座。

    羅漢及少獅之組合,是笑獅羅漢之典形表現,笑獅羅漢梵語伐闍羅弗多羅尊者,是十八羅漢中的第八位。因學佛以後不再做打獵殺生,與獅為樂,故此組合常被視為伐闍羅弗多羅尊者之基本形象。更多關於笑獅羅漢之信息,見拍品315。

    楊璿,字玉璇,清康熙人,原籍褔建漳浦,客福州。康熙《漳浦縣誌》載:「楊玉旋,善雕善山石,凡人物,禽獸、器皿俱極精巧,當事者爭延致之。」另周亮工《閩小記》云:「運刀之妙,如鬼工。」此石質晶瑩,肌裡帶金砂地,羅漢頭方面圓,左手按著小虎作降伏之態,袈裟帶卷草紋邊,並嵌以寶石,背刻有「玉璇」草書款。

    可比較其他「玉璇」款之羅漢壽山石雕,有前為美國印第安纳州Conner Prairie博物館藏品,後拍賣於香港邦瀚斯,2011年5月25日,拍品編號366,及同日之拍賣,石作箋-Q氏珍藏壽山石雕,拍品編號258。
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