A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESHVARA YONGLE PERIOD (1402-1424)

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Lot 121
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESHVARA
YONGLE PERIOD (1402-1424)

Sold for HK$ 2,940,000 (US$ 374,534) inc. premium
Premium Lot - Online Bidding Will Not Be Available
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESHVARA
YONGLE PERIOD (1402-1424)
Himalayan Art Resources item no.2155
21 cm (8 1/4 in.) high

Footnotes

  • Identified by the presence of Amitabha in his crown, Avalokiteshvara sits on a lotus throne, elegant and relaxed. His body gently leans to his right, supported by his arm. His left foot, instead of resting on the base as more commonly seen, is supported by his right thigh. His head tilts to the left, motioned towards his raised left hand, as if lost in thought.

    Named the 'pensive' posture, the origin of this figure's pose stretches as far back as the birth of Buddhist art and its spread into China. It is first seen within Gandharan narrative panels from the 2nd/3rd centuries. There, prince Siddhartha – not yet the Buddha, but a bodhisattva destined to achieve nirvana in his final lifetime – sits in this posture while he surveys an annual ploughing ceremony. Amid the sweltering heat, he observes the toil of the farmer, the bulls, the birds, and the insects, which prompts a precocious meditation on compassion, inspired by life's sorrows. Avalokiteshvara, as the Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion, appears to inherit the pose within the Mahayana tradition, as evident in a Swat Valley bronze of the subject published in von Schroeder, Tibetan Art of the Alain Bordier Foundation, Basel, 2009, pl.2B.

    As Mahayana Buddhism spread rapidly across Central Asia into China, the image of pensive Avalokiteshvara also proliferated throughout the Six Dynasties (c.220–589) in stone, and lead to sculptural traditions of the subject throughout China, Japan, and Korea. The continuation of this tradition within China can be traced across such examples as a Northern Wei (386–534) stele in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (acc.#19.12a–c), a 10th/11th century limestone sculpture in the Musée Guimet published in Siren, Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteenth Century, Vol.II, London, 1925, pl.568, and another Yongle bronze, very similar to the present lot, published in von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Vol.I, Hong Kong, 2001, p.1271, no.353D. Another unpublished Yongle bronze of the same subject was recently exhibited at the Capital Museum, Beijing.

    The Yongle emperor initiated numerous diplomatic missions, some of which brought Chinese statues to Tibet. Imperial statues were also presented to Tibetan visitors at the Ming court on a number of occasions, suggesting a diplomatic function, as well as a religious purpose to such pieces. The early 15th-century imperial style is one of the most admired periods for gilt-bronze Buddhist figures, characterized by exquisite modeling and details, and a gentle expression of quite, yet boundless compassion. That this particular manifestation of Avalokiteshvara does not exist within the Tibetan repertoire reveals that the adoption of the Himalayan style at the imperial court was mitigated with editorial changes in subject and iconography, as well as form. Curiously, it also suggests, that while consecrated in the Tibetan manner, this bronze is not a Vajrayana subject, but a Mahayana sculpture.

    Provenance
    Private Collection, UK, acquired in London, mid-1960s
    Private English Collection, since 1990


    銅鎏金觀音菩薩像
    永樂年間(1402-1424年)

    喜馬拉雅藝術資源網2155號
    高 21 釐米 (8 1/4 英寸)

    2,000,000-3,000,000 港元

    觀音半跏坐於蓮台,頭戴寶冠,冠上飾其標誌化佛阿彌陀佛,造相優雅莊嚴,神態自若。上身往右微傾,右臂直撐蓮台,左足擱在右腿之上,有別於一般擱於蓮台之常見坐姿。臉龐左傾,彷彿若有所思。

    此坐像之"沉思"態可追溯至佛教藝術誕生及傳入中國之時。其形像最早著跡於二、三世紀健馱邏的佛教故事石雕。終以菩薩之身通往"涅槃"的悉達多太子,於尚未成佛之時,正以此坐姿察視耕作儀式。悶熱天下,他目睹到農夫庶民、鳥獸昆蟲之辛勞,領會到萬物之疾苦,故坐禪悟道以普渡眾生。觀音乃大慈大悲菩薩,於大乘佛教傳統中承襲此坐姿,於一尊同類主題的斯瓦特谷銅像上可見一斑,詳見馮·施羅德,Tibetan Art of the Alain Bordier Foundation,巴塞爾,2009年,圖2B。

    大乘佛教經中亞迅速傳入中國,觀音沉思形像亦隨之於六朝時期(約220-589年)以石雕形式散播,繼而在中國、日本與韓國廣為流傳。中國歷朝對此稟承有緒,範例屢見不鮮,如紐約大都會博物館藏一北魏(386-534年)石碑(館藏號19.12a-c);巴黎吉美藝術博物館藏一尊十或十一世紀石灰石像,參見Siren,Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteenth Century,卷二,倫敦,1925年,頁568;一尊與本像甚為相近的永樂年製銅像,出版於馮·施羅德,西藏佛教造像,卷一,香港,2001年,頁1271,353D號,以及另一尊未曾出版、近期於北京首都博物館展出的永樂年製銅像。

    永樂皇帝積極實施外交政策,中原造像亦隨著頻繁的出使活動而進入西藏。一旦西藏使者來訪,明宮廷亦會呈上御製造像禮尚,反映當時佛教造像兼具外交及宗教功能。十五世紀初期的御製鎏金銅佛像鑄模精湛,細節考究,神態靜謐詳和,慈悲莊嚴,故此歷來備受推崇 。西藏造像中並無此般表現觀音的形式,而中原御製的喜馬拉雅風格造像在固有圖像及形式上則有所改變。有趣的是,儘管此觀音像以西藏的方式開光封底,它卻並非密宗之主題,而是大乘佛教的精彩之作。

    來源
    英國私人收藏,於1960年代中期購自倫敦
    英國私人收藏,1990年至今
Contacts
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESHVARA YONGLE PERIOD (1402-1424)
A GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF AVALOKITESHVARA YONGLE PERIOD (1402-1424)
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