A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESHVARA  YUAN DYNASTY, 14TH CENTURY

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Lot 117
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESHVARA
YUAN DYNASTY, 14TH CENTURY

Sold for HK$ 4,125,625 (US$ 525,576) inc. premium
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESHVARA
YUAN DYNASTY, 14TH CENTURY
Himalayan Art Resources item no.16872
14 cm (5 1/4 in.) high

Footnotes

  • 銅鎏金觀音像
    元 十四世紀

    Identified by the miniature image of Amitabha in this bodhisattva's central crown leaf, the elegant bronze represents a rare form of Avalokiteshvara who raises his right hand to open the petals of a red lotus that would have been held in his left hand. (A Pala example of the same iconography was sold at Bonhams, Hong Kong, 3 October 2017, lot 1). An embodiment of absolute compassion, Avalokiteshvara is one of the most popular subjects in Buddhist art throughout Asia. The present lot is a rare and important example from the Yuan dynasty, whose style drew on various traditions and anticipated the famed Yongle and Xuande style of the early Ming court.

    The Yuan dynasty (1279 – 1368) is regarded as one of the most creative Chinese cultural periods. As the Mongol rulers conquered and unified China, the production of Buddhist images took a new direction. Artists from Nepal and Tibet were invited to the Yuan capital, Dadu, to collaborate in imperial workshops with their Chinese counterparts. Religious and artistic inclusiveness seemed to be the spirit of the time, as Bigler states:

    "Although Tibetan esoteric Buddhism was favored by the Mongol emperors during the Yuan dynasty, other traditions of Buddhism such as the Chan, Pureland, and Tiantai schools co-existed in China and continued to play an important role. In the grottos of Feilaifeng near Hangzhou, over 115 stone sculptures were added towards the end of the 13th century; these were executed in both Chinese and Tibeto-Chinese styles, and adjacent figures that depend on different traditions clearly demonstrate that the Yuan was a period of syncretism and assimilation."

    (Bigler, Before Yongle: Chinese and Tibeto-Chinese Buddhist Sculpture of the 13th and 14th Centuries, New York, 2015, p.26)

    This bronze's assimilation of various artistic traditions can be observed in the treatment of the bodhisattva's loose-fitting dhoti and flowing mantle, which follow Chinese aesthetics, while simpler jewelry and his five-leafed crown betray more Nepalese and Tibetan characteristics. The bodhisattva's garments and the plump, oval lotus petals around the sculpture's base draw immediate comparison with a group of gilt lacquer Chinese bronzes produced during the late-13th-to-early-14th century (ibid., pp.22-3 & 30-1, nos.2 & 4). Meanwhile, the deity's round rosette earrings, five-leaf crown, and bejeweled armbands closely resemble those of a 14th-century Avalokiteshvara in a Tibeto-Chinese style (see Bigler, Art and Faith at the Crossroads, Zurich, 2013, p.56-57, no.19).

    This syncretism has prompted scholars to describe the Yuan court's style of Buddhist bronzes as a Nepalo-Chinese style, believed to have been created at imperial workshops under the supervision of a master Newari artist, Aniko (1245-1306), from Nepal. Seemingly unique contributions of the Yuan court style include the highly stacked layering of the bodhisattva's tresses on his shoulders, which is shared by another example (ibid., pp.84-7, no.19). The prominent tresses are one of several features that went on to become stylistic characteristics of the subsequent imperial style of the Early Ming court.

    Provenance
    Ex-Private Japanese Collection
Contacts
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESHVARA  YUAN DYNASTY, 14TH CENTURY
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESHVARA  YUAN DYNASTY, 14TH CENTURY
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESHVARA  YUAN DYNASTY, 14TH CENTURY
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESHVARA  YUAN DYNASTY, 14TH CENTURY
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