A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF BUDDHA THAILAND, SUKHOTHAI PERIOD, CIRCA 14TH CENTURY
Lot 3218
A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF BUDDHA
THAILAND, SUKHOTHAI PERIOD, CIRCA 14TH CENTURY
Sold for US$ 125,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF BUDDHA THAILAND, SUKHOTHAI PERIOD, CIRCA 14TH CENTURY A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF BUDDHA THAILAND, SUKHOTHAI PERIOD, CIRCA 14TH CENTURY
A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF BUDDHA
THAILAND, SUKHOTHAI PERIOD, CIRCA 14TH CENTURY
23 1/4 in. (59.1 cm) high

Footnotes

  • 泰國 素可泰時期 約十四世紀 銅佛坐像

    Translated as 'Dawn of Happiness', the Sukhothai kingdom's reign lasted for 200 years. Regarded by the Thai as a golden age, its Buddha images are among the most lauded in Thai art history.

    In 1219, the death of the last great Khmer emperor Jayavarman VII left a power vacuum in the Northern Thai provinces that local Thai chieftains took advantage of to assert their independence. In throwing off the yoke of Khmer, the Sukhothai rulers rejected a continuation of the Khmer stylistic tradition for their Buddha images, instead favoring the development of their own uniquely Thai aesthetic in line with their northern brethren in the Lan Na kingdom (Krairiksh,The Sacred Image, Koln, 1979, p.47). With the assistance of Singhalese Theravadan monks, they applied literal adherence to textual prescriptions within Pali texts on how to make images of the Buddha. Their efforts yielded a beautiful Thai image informed by poetry rather than naturalism.

    According to these poetic similes of Buddha's signs of greatness (mahalakshanas), he has a nose like 'a parrot's beak', a chin like 'a mango stone', his arms are long and sinuous, 'like the trunk of a young elephant', and his elegant hands are 'like a lotus bud opening', etc. The Volunteer Group of the National Museum of Bangkok provides an excellent description of the classic Sukhothai style which the present example adheres to:

    "Characteristically, classic Sukhothai images are seated on a plain base, with the right hand placed near the knee, performing the gesture...representing the moment of Enlightenment. Soaring above the ushnisha...[is] the Thai flame, symbolizing the Buddha's radiant spiritual energy. The hair-line forms a delicate V-shape at the top of the brow. This shape is echoed by the curved sweep of the arched eyebrows which join at the bridge of a substantial almost hooked nose...The robe, with its characteristic 'fishtail' notch at the navel, appears diaphanous, being outlined by ridges at the breast, ankles and wrist...Typically, the legs are not crossed but folded gently, contributing to the grace of the image."
    (National Museum Volunteers Group, Treasures from the National Museum, Bangkok, 2010, p.35.)

    It is difficult to find a Buddha that so closely reflects the Classic Sukhothai style; more often faced with slight variations on facial features or blends of styles with neighboring Lan Na or Kamphaeng Phet. But the Maitri example compares very closely to the Classic Sukhothai masterpiece held in the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, Sukhothai, and an oft-published red-lacquered and gilded bronze in the National Museum, Bangkok (see Stratton, Buddhist Sculptures of Northern Thailand, Bangkok, 2004, p.165, fig.7.8; and op. cit., p.35, no.54; respectively). Of special fidelity to the latter, note the four-layered flame ushnisha, and the high relief of thick 'snail shell' hair curling around with pleasing symmetry from a central vertical line. Projecting an air of quiet yet insurmountable authority, the Maitri Sukhothai Buddha survives with an alluring variegated patina of reddish brown to piquant green.

    Provenance
    Distinguished Private American Collection, assembled in the 1970s
    Private Swiss Collection, by 2007
    Bonhams, London, 2 October 2012, lot 213
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