Lot 3010
  • 3010


1,200,000 - 1,500,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • 112 cm, 44 in.
the standing figure in graceful tribangha posture, a draped scarf secured over one shoulder and looping diagonally across the bare chest, the elegantly pleated dhoti rolled at the hips below the rounded belly, falling in rhythmic folds and pooling around the feet, the torso adorned with a double-looping pectoral of foliate scrolls flanking a long teardrop pendant and long beaded strands of jewels joined by a large rosette, the head with a full-cheeked face and sensitively carved features, bearing a serene countenance, and hair swept up into a tall coiled chignon behind a scrolled tiara with central jewel and hung in back with trailing ribbons, wood stand


A Japanese private collection, prior to 1976.
Sotheby's New York, 21st September 2007, lot 13.


Zui Tou no Bijutsu [Arts of Sui and Tang period], Osaka Municipal Museum of Art, Osaka, 1976, cat. no. 16.

Catalogue Note

This finely carved image of a bodhisattva, so gracefully carved from attractive granulated sandstone of whitish tone, encapsulates the artistic spirit of the high period of the Tang dynasty, when China's sculptural tradition reached its most mature phase. The modelling of the male bodhisattva is articulated with vivid realism, the dignified poise endowed with the uttermost spirituality.  In contrast to the more sinicised treatment of the human form in the Northern Qi and Sui dynasties, sculptures of the high Tang period show a deep level of influence from the artistic style of the Indian Gupta Empire, itself embued with resonances of the Hellenistic tradition. This is visible not only in the form of the figure itself, but also in the graceful folds of the robes. However, where Gandharan and other earlier prototypes are sterner and more distinct in their seated posture, sculptures of the high Tang period are characterised by gentle S-curves on the body and hips slightly tilted to one side, which imbue the figures with dynamic movement and deep sensuality. These characteristic touches of the high Tang are heightened by the exquisite details the sculptors were able to bring to life from the versatility of the stone: the skilfully defined torso; the graceful curve of the body and the opulent jewellery.

The bodhisattva exhibits close stylistic similarities with other recorded examples from China's cave temples, particularly those of Tianlongshan, such as the sandstone bodhisattva donated by Eduard von der Heydt to the Rietberg Museum, Zurich, illustrated in Museum Rietberg, Zurich, 2002, pp. 62-63. The form and contours of the torso also closely relates to two other Tang dynasty torsos sold at auction, one from the Patino family collection, acquired by Eskenazi in our New York rooms, 3rd December 1986, lot 280, and now in the collection of the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, illustrated in Giuseppe Eskenazi in collaboration with Hajni Elias, A Dealer's Hand. The Chinese Art World Through the Eyes of Giuseppe Eskenazi, London, 2012; Chinese version, Shanghai, 2015, reprint, 2017, pl. 119; and another from the collection of Stevenson Burke (1879-1962), sold in our New York rooms, 8th May 1980, lot 77 and more recently in these rooms, 2nd April 2018, lot 3023.

All three torsos are carved with the same naturalism of expression, characterised by the same pronounced tribhanga pose, with similar carving of the defined muscular features and long flowing jewellery and the same skillful treatment of the drapery, sculpted into graceful folds and naturalistic curves that reinforce the dynamic sensual movement inherent in the sculpture.