A lapis lazuli figure of Amitayus, China, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period. Photo Sotheby’s
carved seated in dhyanasana with hands in dhyanamudra, wearing a dhoti and a long flowing scarf, the bare chest adorned with elaborate beaded necklace, the meditative face below an urna on the forehead, crowned with a pointed tiara. Height 8 1/4 in., 21 cm. Estimation 80,000 — 120,000 USD
Lapis lazuli was used as a pigment in murals and on sculptures in Dunhuang, Maijishan and Binglingsi from the 5th until the 14th centuries. Usage of the current Chinese name of the stone, qingjinshi, blue-gold stone, dates to the Qing dynasty.
There is little doubt that the stone was prized during the Qianlong period, as evidenced by a pair of Qianlong period stone lions dyed to imitate lapis lazuli, illustrated in Tributes from Guangdong to the Qing Court, Hong Kong, 1987, cat. nos. 71 and 72; and a Qianlong period lapis lazuli mountain in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, illustrated in Michael Knight, He Li and Terese Tse Bartholomew, Chinese Jades, San Francisco, 2007, no. 354. Examples of lapis lazuli buddhas are illustrated in Buddhist Art from Rehol, Tibetan Buddhist Images and Ritual Objects from the Qing Dynasty Summer Palace at Chengde, Taipei, 1999, cat. no. 81; and Michael Knight, op. cit., no. 327, dated to the 18th century. Another Qianlong period example was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 26th April 2004, lot 995.
Sotheby’s. Images of Enlightenment: Devotional Works of Art and Paintings, New York | 17 sept. 2014, 10:00 AM