A gilt bronze figure of the Buddha seated on an associated base Ming dynasty
Sold for $485,000 in New York, 15 September 2014

Art Market Review

Issue 9, July - December 2014

Page 32

This superb Ming Dynasty figure of the Buddha poses an interesting question of interpretation. The figure's clasped hands with raised index fingers have been identified in various ways. It could be the gesture made by Vairocana, the Buddha that embodies the dharmakaya – or the truth body – described in the Brahma Net sutra and the Avatamsaka sutra. The two wheels of the law engraved on the soles of the figure's feet lend support to this view. In Ming Buddhist sculpture, however, Vairocana is often depicted with a
five-pointed crown which our figure is not wearing, but this is not unprecedented. The uncrowned Vairocana at Stanford University, for example, has a facial type and pose very similar to this lot. The gesture of clasped hands has also been identified as the uttarabodhi mudra – or gesture of enlightenment – traditionally associated with the historical Sakyamuni Buddha Whichever interpretation is correct, the figure itself exudes great serenity and calm and is a magnificent work of art.

Edward Wilkinson
Consulting specialist in Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art

  1. Edward Wilkinson
    Suite 2001, One Pacific Place
    Hong Kong
    Work +852 2918 4321

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