A rare monumental bronze figure of Mahakasyapa Ming dynasty

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Lot 8037W
A rare monumental bronze figure of Mahakasyapa
Ming dynasty

Sold for US$ 305,000 inc. premium

Chinese Works of Art

14 Mar 2016, 11:00 EDT

New York

PROPERTY FROM A MIDWEST PRIVATE COLLECTION
A rare monumental bronze figure of Mahakasyapa
Ming dynasty
The imposing figure cast standing and gazing sternly downwards with thick drooping brows and a ridged frown above the hooded eyes, the smooth head with a pronounced forehead and accentuated by elongated earlobes, the body elaborately draped in a heavy outer cloak reaching to the knees and chased with a richly embroidered border containing lotus blossoms on a foliate meander, two corners of the robe looped into a circular clasp at the left shoulder held by a ruyi-shaped buckle and below a three-stranded knotted rope, the two hands clasped one over the other and held in front of the chest, the undergarment also with an embroidered hem of zigzag motifs from which the two feet in cloth shoes protrude, all raised on a double lotus pedestal above a beaded edge.
66in (167.6cm) high

Footnotes

  • 明 銅摩訶迦葉站像

    This figure of Mahakasyapa is most likely one of a pair, the probable companion being a figure of Ananda from the collection of Leon and Jean Dalva, sold at Sotheby's New York, sale 9191, Images of Enlightenment: Devotional Works of Art and Paintings, 17 September 2014, lot 430.

    A bronze figure of a monk dated to the 17th century, with closely related features to the present lot, including a pronounced forehead, heavy frowning brows, hands clasped in the same gesture and confident stance on a double lotus pedestal, is in the collection of the British Museum, accession number 1990,0529.1. However at only 68.8cm high, the museum figure is considerably smaller than the present lot, and it lacks certain ornate details such as the buckle on the left shoulder.

    A gilt-bronze standing figure of Buddha of similar size to the present lot is in the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, accession number 922.4.89 from the George Crofts Collection. Dated to the 16th/17th century, it shows a similar treatment of the heavy folds of the robe richly decorated with lotus borders, and the double lotus pedestal.






    A RARE MONUMENTAL BRONZE FIGURE OF MAHAKASYAPA

    Considered to be one of his closest and most outstanding disciples, the Arhat Mahakasyapa (Chinese: Mohe Jiaye) in Han Buddhist traditions is usually depicted in attendance upon the historical Buddha Sakyamuni together with his youthful friend and fellow Sangha member, Ananda. In the present lot, as is typical, Mahakasyapa furrows his brow in a portentous heavy frown above hands held out in front of his chest in prayer. In this way, as the older, more serious figure of the two, Mahakasyapa guides the devout Buddhist practitioner using his strong paternalistic presence, perhaps instilling a sense of awe and fearful wonder, as well as strength, rigor and calm.

    The monumental size of the present lot is particularly well suited to the portrayal of these characteristics: this is a father-figure both overbearing and stern, yet somehow nurturing in his strength and power. The supreme technical achievements of late Ming artisans are especially suited to conveying this, using the strong, confident casting of the age to create a piece with individualized and memorable features.

    The tradition of depicting the Sakyamuni Buddha with these two disciples can be traced back at least to Northern Wei sculptures (386–535CE) found at the Longmen caves in China's Henan Province. Other examples can be seen on a Western Wei stele dated to 549CE in the Avery Brundage Collection at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (d'Argencé and Turner, The Avery Brundage Collection, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Sculpture, 1974, p. 113). In that example, the monks' features were not sufficiently distinct for positive identification, but by the latter half of the 7th century, in a mid Tang stele, also from the Avery Brundage Collection, Ananda has evolved into his well-known form of a youth standing on the left, with Mahakasyapa on the right, the familiar old man, complete with creases on his forehead, bushy eyebrows and a brooding expression (ibid., p. 178).

    Though they would not come to play theological roles as major as Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin) and Manjusri (Wenshushili), Arhats (Chinese: Luohan) like this Mahakasyapa figure still had an important role in Chinese religion as it developed through the Ming. One example can be seen in the character of Mulian (Sanskrit: Maudgalyana), the filial son who rescued his mother from the realm of the hungry ghosts, as described by the Ullambana Sutra (Chinese: Fo Shuo Bao En Fengpen Jing), ostensibly a Mahayana text but with a very comfortingly native Confucian and Chinese ideological moral. From this text came numerous examples of operas and literature, as well as the Zhongyuan or Yulanpan festival of the fifteenth day of the Seventh lunar Month where food is distributed so that the dead, like Mulian's mother, can be saved. This Confucian/Buddhist syncretism went on to be eagerly adopted by the Japanese for their Obon festival. Interestingly, this figure of Maudgalyana is the Arhat usually in attendance upon the Buddha Sakyamuni in Tibetan iconography, there as in Ming statues like the present lot, clasping its hands together in the prayerful Namaskaramudra.

    Although large-scale Buddhist figures in wood from the Ming period are preserved in private and public collections throughout the world, very few bronze figures of comparable size survive. This Mahakasyapa is likely the pair to a figure of Ananda from the collection of Leon and Jean Dalva, sold at Sotheby's New York, sale 9191, Images of Enlightenment: Devotional Works of Art and Paintings, 17 September 2014, lot 430.

    The two figures may have flanked either a standing or seated figure of the Buddha of equally impressive size, as suggested by the massive gilt bronze triad in the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, originally from the Muneuchi Nitta Collection: see Chen Huixia, Li Dai Jin Tong Fo Zao Xiang Te Zhen Tu Lu (A Special Exhibition of Recently Acquired Gilt Bronze Buddhist Images), Taibei, 1996, nos. 25-27, pp. 86-89. The Buddha is seated between two elaborately dressed standing figures of Guanyin, all supported on matching lotus pedestals (312cm height of central figure, 240cm height of the attendants).

    An early 17th century date was proposed for that Buddha triad now in the National Palace Museum, based on the similarity between the face of the seated Buddha to that of a smaller gilt bronze standing Baby Buddha, dated by inscription to Tianqi fourth year (1624), also in the Nitta Collection, published in the National Palace Museum exhibition Jin Tong Fo Zao Xiang Te Zhan Tu Lu (The Crucible of Compassion and Wisdom), Taibei 1987, pl. 119. The faces of both the Nitta infant Buddha and the massive seated Buddha show remarkable similarity to that of the likely mate to the present lot, the massive bronze Ananda from the collection of Leon and Jean Dalva.

    Terese Tse Bartholomew
    --Curator Emeritus
    The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco


    銅摩訶迦葉站像

    迦葉尊者(Arhat Mahakasyapa,又稱摩訶迦葉或大迦葉),向來被認為是佛祖釋迦牟尼弟子中最優秀也是最受賞賜的一位.在漢傳佛教中,迦葉尊者往往站在佛祖的一旁,而另一旁則是大迦葉的好友,屬於同一僧團的年輕弟子阿難陀尊者,兩人共同侍奉釋迦佛.兩位大弟子中,以迦葉尊者年歲較長,因而在雕塑與畫像中往往緊皺雙眉、神情凝重,雙手合十做祈禱狀,在此次拍賣的藝品中亦是如此.迦葉尊者凝重的神色帶來的是一種長者的威嚴,令觀賞者敬畏有加,同時也給信徒們帶來力量、紀律與平靜.

    本拍賣品的巨大體型尤其適合表達迦葉尊者的長者威嚴──畢竟他是一位高高在上、威儀萬千的長輩級人物,但同時卻又能夠以其長者的慈悲帶給晚輩鼓勵與力量.明末的工匠以其高超的技藝將迦葉尊者的性格特點捕捉得淋漓盡致,並且以當代成熟又超群的鑄造技術把銅像造得個性十足、獨一無二.

    佛祖釋迦牟尼與迦葉、阿難陀兩位尊者同處,最早可追溯至河南省龍門石窟的北魏(386–535 CE)雕像.同樣的畫像也見於舊金山亞洲藝術博物館(Asian Art Museum of San Francisco)布倫戴奇藏品(Avery Brundage Collection)中的一塊刻於西元549年的西魏石碑(見d'Argencé與 Turner著,1974年出版之《The Avery Brundage Collection, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Sculpture》,第113頁).在該石碑中,兩位尊者的面部表情不如後期作品典型,然而到了唐代中期,兩位尊者的個別特點可謂定型.從布倫戴奇藏品中的一塊七世紀末的石碑中便可明顯看出,年少開朗的阿難陀尊者站在佛祖左側,而皺紋斑斑、愁眉苦臉的迦葉尊者則立於其右(見第178頁).

    漢傳佛教中的尊者,在宗教上的地位雖然不如觀世音、文殊師利等菩薩,然而到了明朝,這些大弟子們在中國民間傳說中卻扮演著重要的角色.其中最為人熟知的大弟子事蹟便是目連(又稱大目乾連或目犍連)救母的故事.根據《佛說報恩奉盆經》(Ullambana Sutra)記載,佛大弟子目連將其母親自餓鬼道救出.此經雖屬大乘佛教經文,然而寓意卻與中國的孝道不謀而合,可稱是帶有儒家色彩的經典.目連救母的故事在民間被改編成諸多小說與戲曲,同時也是漢文化中中元節(又稱盂蘭盆節)的源頭:在農曆的七月十五日必須以祭品祭拜陰間的鬼魂,好讓像目連的母親這樣的冤魂能夠得救.而這種儒、佛合一的思想也傳到了日本,在日本演變成了盂蘭盆會(Obon festival).而無獨有偶的是,目連尊者亦是在一旁侍奉佛祖.在西藏畫像中,目連亦是雙手合十,與此處的明朝雕像相同.

    明朝的大型木製佛像雖可見於世界各地的公家與私人收藏中,然而相同大小的鍍金銅像卻極為罕見.本次拍賣的迦葉尊者銅像應是與2014年9月17日紐約蘇富比第9191次「悟相:宗教藝術專拍」(Images of Enlightenment: Devotional Works of Art and Paintings)所售出的阿難陀尊者銅像成對的.該銅像原屬於達爾瓦夫婦(Leon and Jean Dalva)的私人收藏.這對阿難陀與迦葉兩尊者的鍍金銅像,估計原應是位於一座與其大小相當的佛祖釋迦牟尼像的兩旁.此類大型鍍金銅製三聖雕像可見於台灣的故宮博物院,塑像來自新田棟一集藏(見陳慧霞著《歷代金銅佛造像特展圖錄》,1996年台北出版,第86至89頁,編號25至27).在此銅像中,釋迦牟尼佛位於中央,而兩旁則是衣著精緻的觀音像,各自站在對稱的蓮花座上(釋迦牟尼佛高312公分,觀音像高240公分).

    據《金銅佛造像特展圖錄》紀載(台北故宮博物院1987年出版,第119圖),故宮博物院所擁有的大型鍍金銅製三聖雕像應是十七世紀初的作品,原因是佛祖雕像的面容與新田棟一集藏中另一座較小的鍍金銅製佛祖立像極為神似,而該立像刻有明天啟四年(西元1624年)的字樣.故宮佛祖像與新田棟一集藏小佛像兩者的面容,皆與達爾瓦夫婦私藏阿難陀像的面容極為相似.本次拍賣的迦葉鍍金銅像若與該阿難陀像確為一對,則不難推出其出產年分.

    謝瑞華(Terese Tse Bartholomew)
    --舊金山亞洲藝術博物館名譽館長
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A rare monumental bronze figure of Mahakasyapa Ming dynasty
A rare monumental bronze figure of Mahakasyapa Ming dynasty
A rare monumental bronze figure of Mahakasyapa Ming dynasty
A rare monumental bronze figure of Mahakasyapa Ming dynasty
A rare monumental bronze figure of Mahakasyapa Ming dynasty
A rare monumental bronze figure of Mahakasyapa Ming dynasty
A rare monumental bronze figure of Mahakasyapa Ming dynasty
A rare monumental bronze figure of Mahakasyapa Ming dynasty
A rare monumental bronze figure of Mahakasyapa Ming dynasty
A rare monumental bronze figure of Mahakasyapa Ming dynasty
A rare monumental bronze figure of Mahakasyapa Ming dynasty
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