Lot 2846
  • 2846


300,000 - 400,000 HKD
375,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Tanxiangmu wood (Santalum Album)
the well carved fragmentary figure of Guanyin modelled with a regal and upright posture, the face rendered with a serene and meditative expression, delicately picked out with pursed lips and a small nose beneath a lowered half-closed gaze, all beneath a meticulously picked out chignon beneath a high cowl, clad in loose voluminous robes gathering in folds along the collar around the chest and falling naturally on her back, the hands and lower body truncated in different segments, the detail picked out in traces of black and red pigments, steel stand

Catalogue Note

This unusual figure bears resemblance to Dehua and soapstone figures produced at the time, which are characterised by delicate facial features and lyrical garment folds that are all modelled in the round. The warmth of the deity is captured in the gentle smile, while her half-closed eyes convey a state of deep contemplation while engaging with the worshipper. Another tanxiangmu figure, but carved seated and holding a child, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, was included in the Museum's exhibition Wisdom Embodied. Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2010, cat. no. A66. Compare a boxwood figure of Guanyin in the Palace Museum, Beijing, similarly carved with closely related treatment of the facial expression, chignon and flowing robes, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Bamboo, Wood, Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carvings, Hong Kong, 2012, pl. 15; and a gilt-lacquered wood carving of a seated bodhisattva with similarly rendered facial features, sold in our New York rooms, 26th March 1996, lot 222.

Guanyin is first mentioned in the Lotus Sutra, the most important and influential of the Mahayana sutras, where it states that Guanyin can take whatever form necessary, male or female, to bring salvation. The Lotus Sutra started gaining popularity during the Sui dynasty (581-618), but even before that, images of Guanyin were already being produced. In addition to being a universal saviour, Guanyin was also venerated by art and antique dealers in traditional China as their patron deity. These professions choose Guanyin as their patron because images of Guanyin could be found in all materials of value to those trades, such as wood, bronze, stone, jade, porcelain, and even paper and textiles.