322
322

PROPERTY FROM THE JUNKUNC COLLECTION

A GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF AVALOKITESHVARA
SUI / EARLY TANG DYNASTY
Estimate
80,000120,000
JUMP TO LOT
322

PROPERTY FROM THE JUNKUNC COLLECTION

A GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF AVALOKITESHVARA
SUI / EARLY TANG DYNASTY
Estimate
80,000120,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Bodies of Infinite Light Featuring an Important Collection of Buddhist Figures Formerly in the Collection of the Chang Foundation

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New York

A GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF AVALOKITESHVARA
SUI / EARLY TANG DYNASTY
finely cast standing, swaying gently to the left with a soft bend in the hips in elegantly arranged garments and jewelry, the hair delineated in neat plaits and secured with a diadem over the serene face, wearing a long necklace evenly spaced with large round jewels and smaller beads, a long capelet typical of the period spread across the shoulders and crossed in front, the tapering ends draped across the body onto the raised proper left arm, bearing a willow branch, and the lowered opposite hand, the reverse with incised lines depicting the long tresses cascading over the shoulders and the folds of the long draped garments, all supported on a circular domed base encircled with eight splayed lotus petals above an octagonal base
Height 7 1/8  in., 18.2 cm 
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Provenance

Collection of Stephen Junkunc, III (d. 1978).

Catalogue Note

This beautifully rendered image of the most beloved deity in Buddhism displays classic characteristics of the Sui and early Tang period. Capelets like that of the present figure, worn crossed in front of the body with the ends draped across opposing arms, with an additional sash joining the draping on the lower arm, were a common feature of the late 6th century, as discussed in regard to a related gilt bronze figure illustrated in Denise Patry Leidy and Donna Strahan, Wisdom Embodied: Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Haven, 2010, pl. 12. The Metropolitan Museum figure wears similar jewelry, holds a luxuriant branch of willow, and bears the same slight lean of the hips, but has a more elaborate base and retains its mandorla. Compare another figure, also attributed to the Sui dynasty, illustrated in Saburō Matsubara, Chinese Buddhist Sculpture: A Study Based on Bronze and Stone Statues other than from Cave Temples, Tokyo, 1966, pls 224a-c, with a diadem and necklace of circular cabochons similar to those present. Whilst the Matsubara figure has lost the attributes once in the figure's hands, other similarities include the evenly striated coiffure, the casting of the sash tied around the hips, and the incised delineation of the garment drapery to the back of the figure. Compare as well a figure in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, attributed to the Sui or Tang dynasty, with a base similar to the present figure's, illustrated in Lidai jintongfo zaoxiang tezhan tulu/A Special Exhibition of Recently Acquired Gilt-Bronze Buddhist Images, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1996, cat. no. 6.

The majority of China's early depictions of favored Buddhist subjects and deities included works centering on Shakyamuni and Maitreya, however in the Sui and Tang periods, Avalokiteshvara and Amitabha were painted and carved in greater numbers. According to Chun-fang Yu, ed. Marsha Weidner, Latter Days of the Law: Images of Chinese Buddhism, 850-1850, Lawrence, Kansas, 1994, p. 152, a list of statues at Luoyang after the early Tang period included 222 of Amitabha, 197 of Avalokiteshvara, 94 of Shakyamuni, and 62 of Maitreya. The willow branch iconography can be traced to the complex sinicization of Avalokiteshvara in relation to the developments in Chinese worship of the deity. The willow branch attribute is not seen in Indian and Tibetan depictions of the bodhisattva, and can possibly be connected to the importance placed on the intense recitation of the Dharani Sutra of Invoking Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara to Dissipate and Subdue Poison and Harm (Qing Guanshiyin Pusa xiaofu duhai tuoluoni zhoujing), first translated from Sanskrit to Chinese by Zhu Nanti of the Eastern Jin dynasty, in which Buddha directs ailing disciples to offer Avalokiteshvara willow branches and clean water in order to receive his great mercy. A painting in Dunhuang depicts a standing Avalokiteshvara with willow branch in the raised hand, the capelet not crossed in front as the present example but similarly draped over the arms, illustrated in Weidner, op. cit., pl. 47. Two paintings from the Qian Fo Dong at Dunhuang, now at the British Museum, acc. nos 1919,0101,0.14 and 1919,0101,0.157, also portray the bodhisattva with a willow branch.

Bodies of Infinite Light Featuring an Important Collection of Buddhist Figures Formerly in the Collection of the Chang Foundation

|
New York