A stone figure of a Bodhisattva, China, Northern Qi-Sui Dynasty. Photo Sotheby’s
the slender upright figure with left hand lowered holding an attribute, dressed in a layered skirt with a shawl draped over the shoulders and long trailing scarves, adorned with a chain of beads and ornaments that crosses over at the waist, the serene face flanked by long ears, discs at the shoulders and ribbons that hang from the festooned, jeweled headdress, stand (2). Height 46 in., 117 cm. Estimation 80,000 — 120,000 USD
Provenance: Japanese Collection (by repute before the 1960s).
A bodhisattva is a being who has attained enlightenment, but motivated by great compassion, decides to postpone personal salvation until all sentient beings are saved. In art, this continued engagement with the world is represented by rich jewlery, which symbolizes the material world, clearly represented on the present lot.
The figure is portrayed with downcast eyes and a gentle smile, a long chain of beads of different shapes and sizes hanging around the neck, crossing behind a floral ornament and looping back around the figure’s back. The elaborate headdress is also festooned with beaded chains, florets, tassels and ribbons.
The discs at the shoulders of the present lot are a feature that appear on Sui period figures, and could be a form of hair ornament. A Sui dynasty figure in the Cincinnati Art Museum is illustrated in Chinese Art in Overseas Collections, Buddhist Sculpture II, Taipei, 1995, fig. 85. Two examples in gilt-bronze from the Sui period, also appear to have these discs on the shoulders, op. cit., figs. 86 and 87. Other examples with the discs are illustrated in Osvald Siren, Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteen Century, vol. 3, New York, 1925, pl. 307 and 322A.
A similar figure, but without the discs was sold in our London rooms, 2nd December 1997, lot 25, and a slightly larger figure excavated from the site of the Longxing Temple in Qingdao and illustrated in Angela Falco Howard, et. al., Chinese Sculpture, Yale, 2006, p. 294, fig. 3.99, is regarded by some scholars as Northern Qi and others as Sui.
Sotheby’s. Images of Enlightenment: Devotional Works of Art and Paintings, New York | 17 sept. 2014, 10:00 AM