A white marble head of Mahasthamaprapta Northern Qi Dynasty

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Lot 31
A white marble head of Mahasthamaprapta
Northern Qi Dynasty

Sold for £ 308,750 (US$ 385,982) inc. premium
A white marble head of Mahasthamaprapta
Northern Qi Dynasty
The face gracefully carved with ample rounded brows tapering above slender undulating eyes barely open in meditation, the nose flaring above a sensuous bud mouth, with pendulous ears and hair arranged into a tall chignon secured by a delicate, foliate headdress tied with ribbons at the sides. 34cm (13 3/8in) high.

Footnotes

  • The Property of a Gentleman 紳士藏品

    北齊 大理石雕菩薩頭像

    Provenance: Gisèle Croës Arts D'Extreme Orient, Brussels, 2006
    Jean-Yves Ollivier Collection

    來源:
    布魯塞爾古董商吉賽爾藝廊,2006年
    歐宗易先生珍藏

    Delicately carved from a highly translucent marble which further emphasises its elegant proportions and ethereal grace, the present head is a remarkable example of the high standards achieved in Buddhist portraiture during the Northern Qi period.

    At this time, Buddhism flourished in China, with several shrines being constructed under the Emperor's personal auspices and eminent monks being appointed as state preceptors. Conspicuous financial resources were devoted to the construction of Buddhist caves whose marvellous sculptures combined sensuous modelling and subtlety of expression. These features were likely to have derived from the contemporary Indian style of the Gupta period, which was highly regarded by the Qi aristocracy for its exotic traits. In Buddhist faith, images of deities served as important foci of worship and also promoted significant devotional acts which contributed to the devotee's personal growth towards spiritual liberation.

    According to Osvald Siren, marble figures modelled in gently rounded forms, such as the present example, were typically produced during the second half of the 6th century. See O.Siren, 'Chinese Marble Sculptures of the Transition Period', Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, no.12, Stockholm, 1940, pp.473-496.

    The vase featured at the centre of the crown identifies the figure as Mahasthamaprapta, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom and one of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas of the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism. Images of Mahasthamaprapta were typically paired with those of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, in relation to the cult of Buddha Amitabha and the Pure Land which offered the ideal conditions for attaining awakening in a single lifetime.

    Compare with a limestone head of a bodhisattva, Northern Qi dynasty, similarly modelled with arched brows and hair arranged in regular curls, coiling to each side from the centre, from the Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City (acc.no.F99-1). Another stone example bearing similar features to the present example is illustrated in Shandong Boxing Longhua si yizhi diaocha jianbao (Reconnaissance of the Site of the Longhua Temple at Boxing, Shandong), Kaogu, Beijing, 1986, vol.9, pl.6, fig.2. Also compare with two related limestone heads of Mahasthamaprapta, Northern Qi, respectively from the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (acc.no.F1916.346), and the San Diego Museum of Art, (acc.no.DSC06522), the latter illustrated in K.Tsiang, Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan, Chicago, 2010, p.230, fig.32.

    大理石質,菩薩頭戴寶瓶冠,開臉圓潤,眉目清秀,唇角微收若有笑意,為大勢至菩薩尊容。

    據Osvald Siren所論述,輪廓較為圓潤的大理石塑像多為六世紀後半葉所雕琢,詳見O.Siren著,「Chinese Marble Sculptures of the Transition Period(過渡期的中國大理石雕塑像)」,載於《東方博物館簡報》,第12期,斯特哥爾摩,1940年,頁473至496。

    比對美國堪薩斯納爾遜-阿特金斯藝術博物館藏一尊北齊石灰岩觀音頭像,同樣雕琢拱形眉毛以及漩渦狀髮髻,館藏編號F99-1。另一與本拍品可作比對的例子,於山東博興龍華寺出土,載於「山東博興龍華寺遺址調查簡報」,《考古》,第九輯,北京,1986年,圖版6,圖2。另外兩尊相關的北齊石灰岩大勢至菩薩頭像,則分別由華盛頓佛瑞爾藝廊及聖地亞哥藝術博物館所藏,館藏編號F1916.346及DSC06522;聖地亞哥藝術博物館一例則載於K.Tsiang著,《Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan(過去的迴響:響山堂石窟佛教造像)》,芝加哥,2010年,頁230,圖32。
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A white marble head of Mahasthamaprapta Northern Qi Dynasty
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