A rare Imperial gilt-lacquered bronze figure of Amitayus Kangxi
Lot 9
A rare Imperial gilt-lacquered bronze figure of Amitayus
Kangxi
Sold for HK$ 7,240,000 (US$ 926,834) inc. premium

Lot Details
The Property of a Gentleman 紳士藏品
A rare Imperial gilt-lacquered bronze figure of Amitayus Kangxi A rare Imperial gilt-lacquered bronze figure of Amitayus Kangxi A rare Imperial gilt-lacquered bronze figure of Amitayus Kangxi A rare Imperial gilt-lacquered bronze figure of Amitayus Kangxi A rare Imperial gilt-lacquered bronze figure of Amitayus Kangxi
A rare Imperial gilt-lacquered bronze figure of Amitayus
Kangxi
Heavily cast seated with legs crossed in dhyanasana and hands held in dhyana mudra atop an exquisite double-lotus base decorated with beaded rim and details in relief, wearing a dhoti overflowing onto the pedestal and incised at the hem with floral decoration, with billowing scarf across both shoulders leaving the chest bare, wearing beaded necklaces, armlets, bracelets and earrings inset with semi-precious hardstones, the serene facial expression with downcast eyes framed by pendulous ears and elaborate headdress holding the hair in high chignon, overall richly gilt and the body lacquered red, engraved to the underside hem with the character shi, denoting the number ten.
41.8cm (16 1/2in) high

Footnotes

  • 清康熙 銅鎏金無量壽佛坐像

    The Kangxi emperor's strong personal attraction to impressive gilt-lacquered and semi-precious-stone-inlaid bronze figures such as the present lot is demonstrated by their close stylistic resemblance to the four-armed Avalokitesvara Shadakshari, from the Qing Court Collection, dated by inscription to the bingyin year, corresponding to 1686, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Buddhist Statues of Tibet, Shanghai, 2003, p.237, no.226. The inscription, which is engraved in four different languages of Mandarin, Manchu, Mongolian and Tibetan Sanskrit, reads:

    '大清昭聖慈壽恭簡安懿章慶敦惠溫莊康和仁宣弘靖太皇太后虔,奉三室福庇萬靈,自於康熙二十五年歲次丙寅恭奉聖諭不日告成,永念聖祖母仁慈垂佑眾生更賴菩薩感應萬壽無疆雲爾。'

    The inscription states that the gilt-bronze figure was commissioned and presented in dedication to the Kangxi emperor's grandmother, empress dowager Xiaozhuangwen (1613-1688). The year 1686 was neither the empress dowager's seventieth jubilee, nor the Kangxi emperor's thirtieth jubilee; however, the Amitayus's strong association with longevity, known as the Buddha of Infinite Life, could conceivably present the explanation for this highly costly production of the prized sacred figures. The Buddha Amitayus, associated with the rites that ensure long life, is especially worshipped by Tibetans, who believe that life can be extended through long lineages, faith and compassion. It is also believed that one can achieve self-enlightenment and cater to the welfare of others with the help of Amitayus.

    The dowager empress was largely responsible for the Kangxi emperor's upbringing and education under the rule of the Four Regents, following the death of the emperor's mother, empress Xiaokangzhang (1640-1663). The Kangxi emperor's devotion to the dowager empress is clearly demonstrated in him personally looking after her, when she fell ill in the autumn of 1687. It is therefore possible that this group of exceptional figures of Amitayus was made for prayer and hope for the prolonging of the dowager empress's life, or in her honour after her passing.

    The remarkable size and weight of the Amitayus, intricately cast and richly gilt, finely inlaid with semi-precious stones elevating the figure to a higher art form, enriched with gold-lacquer, softly worn in places touched and worshipped for centuries, all combine to create a magnificent portrayal of the Buddha Amitayus, worthy of Imperial worship. Such a magnificent production would have been costly and therefore only a limited number of such figures would have been made in comparison to the thousands of much smaller gilt-bronze figures of Amitayus ordered by the Qianlong emperor in honour of his mother, empress Xiaoshengxian's (1693-1777) sixtieth, seventieth and eightieth birthdays.

    There are very few recorded examples of Kangxi gilt-bronze figures of Amitayus engraved with a numerical inscription at the underside of the foot; compare a gilt-lacquered bronze figure of Amitayus, Kangxi, bearing the engraved number 'seventy six', which was sold at Christie's London, 14 May 2013, lot 154.

    Compare a similar Imperial gilt-bronze figure of Amitayus, Kangxi, which was sold at Sotheby's London on 5 November 2014, lot 18, and another from the same rooms sold on 10 November 2010, lot 233. See also another similar example which was sold at Christie's London on 13 May 2008, lot 147.

    無量壽佛尺寸碩大,銅質厚重,通體鎏金。結金剛跏趺坐,法相莊嚴而慈和,施禪定印,坐於蓮台之上。佛面、腹、手、足處施有朱漆,頭頂飾有鏤空寶冠,並嵌有珊瑚、綠松石及青金石,耳垂圓璫,繒帶於耳後揚起。胸前項鍊、臂釧、手鐲上均鑲嵌寶石,工藝精湛,華貴奪目。身體肌肉鑄造豐滿圓潤,腰腹線條優美自然。其披肩、綢裙邊緣鏨刻纏枝蓮花紋。雙層蓮座,蓮瓣飽滿,樣式獨特,瓣尖鑄卷草紋及如意紋,每個細節表現均一絲不苟。蓮座底部邊沿刻有「十」記號。

    康熙時期宮廷佛造像雖然大多以無量壽佛為主,但相比乾隆皇帝為孝聖憲皇后祝壽所造無量壽佛鑄造更加不惜成本。據記載,康熙三十六年清內務府下設中正殿念經處,負責管理宮中藏傳佛教事務,並辦造佛像。此時期清宮製作的一些較小體積的無量壽佛因為便於攜帶,可能用於其於賞賜蒙古王公,而精良鑄造之大件者,則用於皇家寺廟供奉之需。

    康熙帝之祖母孝莊太皇太后篤信佛教,北京故宮博物院藏一尊四臂觀音,其蓮座下陰刻漢、滿、蒙、藏寺中銘文:「大清昭聖慈壽恭簡安懿章慶敦惠溫莊康和仁宣弘靖太皇太后虔,奉三室福庇萬靈,自於康熙二十五年歲次丙寅恭奉聖諭不日告成,永念聖祖母仁慈垂佑眾生更賴菩薩感應萬壽無疆雲爾。」可見玄燁御令鑄製此像,或為敬奉祖母之禮而製造。而此尊無量壽佛的鑄造工藝、頭冠、紋飾以及蓮座風格與北京故宮所藏四臂觀音非常相似,見《故宮博物院藏文物珍品大系:藏傳佛教造像》,上海,2003年,頁237,圖226;另見一例於Ulrich von Schroeder,《Indo-Tibetan Bronzes》,香港,1981年,頁152,圖版152A 及152B。

    此類康熙時期之無量壽佛中,有少數蓮座底部會刻有數字,例如倫敦佳士得2013年5月14日售出一例,拍品154,其底部陰刻有數字「七十六」。

    其他例子,見倫敦蘇富比曾售出一例,2014年11月5日,拍品18;另見倫敦蘇富比另一例,2010年11月10日,拍品233。倫敦佳士得亦售出一例與本尊類似,2008年5月13日,拍品147。
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