A very rare dated gilt-bronze Buddhist votive shrine, China, Eastern Wei dynasty, dated Xinghe 2nd year, corresponding to 540 AD. Photo Sotheby’s
cast as two buddhas seated side by side, with robes cascading over their legs, hands in abhaya– andvaradamudras, with petal-shaped mandorlas behind them, the backs each impressed with images of three buddhas, beneath a hipped roof supported by three pillars and surmounted by a small buddha, all supported on a bracketed base with date and dedicatory inscription on two sides. Height 8 1/2 in., 21.5 cm. Estimation 150,000 — 250,000 USD
Provenance: Mahé Gallery, Paris, 1970s / 80s.
French Private Collection
The inscription indicates that the piece was commissioned by Liu Mei to commemorate his parents from seven past lives, with the hope that the entire family and all sentient beings will eventually attain buddhahood.
The two buddhas depicted are Prabhutaratna and Sakyamuni. In chapter eleven of the Lotus Sutra, as Sakyamuni Buddha is delivering his sermon, a jeweled stupa rises from the earth and hovers in the air. It opens to reveal Prabhutaratna, the buddha of the past age. Shakyamuni rises into the air and joins him. All those present rejoice and shower the two buddhas with flowers.
This scene is popular in Buddhist art from the Northern Wei into the Tang dynasties. Examples are illustrated in Hugo Munsterberg, Chinese Buddhist Bronzes, Rutland, 1967, pls. 33-35. Other Wei period examples are illustrated in Saburo Matsubara,Chinese Buddhist Sculpture, Tokyo, 1966, pls. 103 (a) and (b).
Sotheby’s. Images of Enlightenment: Devotional Works of Art and Paintings, New York | 17 sept. 2014, 10:00 AM