A RARE LARGE GILT-BRONZE VOTIVE FIGURE OF PADMAPANI NORTHERN WEI DYNASTY, FOURTH YEAR OF THE YONGPING PERIOD, CORRESPONDING TO 511 AD | 北魏永平四年（511年） 鎏金銅蓮華手觀音立像
Estimate: 150,000 - 250,000 GBP
A RARE LARGE GILT-BRONZE VOTIVE FIGURE OF PADMAPANI
NORTHERN WEI DYNASTY, FOURTH YEAR OF THE YONGPING PERIOD, CORRESPONDING TO 511 AD
well cast standing in abhanga on a lotus pedestal base, the left hand holding a stem and the other grasping a flask, the slender body dressed with a diaphanous dhoti and long scarf draping over the shoulders and upper arms, the face with a pensive expression below hair gathered in a high chignon, against a mandorla festooned with a circular halo with radiating lotus petals and swirling flames extending to the pointed tip, all supported on a four-legged platform adorned with floral motifs, inscribed to the back of the stand and continued to one side with a partially decipherable dedicatory inscription, dated to the fourth year of the Yongping period (511 AD)
Height 29 cm, 11⅜ in.
There is overall wear to the rich gilding on the base and mandorla, and particularly to the figure's head, arms and legs. There is a series of horizontal ridges across the tip of the flame, both to the front and back and associated losses to the gilding. There are losses to the metal to one corner of one of the front legs of the base and losses and dents to the metal on one back corner and to both back legs of the base.
This figure was also exhibited in Ancient Chinese Bronze Vessels, Gilt Bronzes and Early Ceramics, Christian Deydier Oriental Bronzes Ltd, London, 1986, cat. no 12.
此像曾展於《Ancient Chinese Bronze Vessels, Gilt Bronzes and Early Ceramics》, 戴克誠，倫敦，1986年，編號12。
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Vicomte de Bragelogne, Paris.
Eskenazi Ltd., London.
Vicomte de Bragelogne，巴黎
Ancient Chinese Bronzes and Gilt Bronzes from the Wessen and Other Collections, Eskenazi Ltd., London, 1980, cat. no. 23.
《Ancient Chinese Bronzes and Gilt Bronzes from the Wessen and Other Collections》, 埃斯卡納齊，倫敦，1980年，編號23
Ancient Chinese Bronze Vessels, Gilt Bronzes and Early Ceramics, Christian Deydier Oriental Bronzes Ltd, London, 1986, cat. no 12.
《Ancient Chinese Bronze Vessels, Gilt Bronzes and Early Ceramics》, 戴克誠，倫敦，1986年，編號12
Saburo Matsubara, Chugoku Bukkyo Choukuku Shi Ron/History of Chinese Buddhist Sculpture, Tokyo, 1995, vol. I, pl. 108a.
Standing majestically against a large and finely incised mandorla, this figure of the bodhisattva Padmapani ranks among the largest gilt-bronze sculptures from the Northern Wei dynasty remaining in private hands. Its serene expression and captivating smile, voluminous body and powerful pose, are testament to the gradual development of an indigenous Buddhist style in northern China.
Under the patronage of the ruling Northern Wei dynasty, founded by the Tuoba clan of the Xianbei ethnic group, Buddhism flourishing in China. The imperial family of this foreign dynasty actively supported the religion and regarded it as a means to legitimise their rule in a society dominated by Han Chinese values. Buddhist images proliferated in this period, and different phases of development can be discerned. The influence of Gandharan and Central Asian sculptures, at first taken as models to follow, gradually developed into a style that also took into consideration Chinese aesthetic language. During the reign of Emperor Xiaowen (r. 471-499), this process of sinicisation accelerated as the capital was moved from Datong to Luoyang, the former capital of the Eastern Han dynasty. Furthermore, the Emperor actively sponsored the assimilation of Han Chinese costumes on members of the Tuoba clan, a trend that continued under his successor, Emperor Xuanwu (r. 500-515) when this figure was created. Dated in accordance to 511, this sculpture carries stylistic elements that represent this artistic shift. The figure’s voluminous body and its aristocratic pose display the continued influence of Gandharan and Central Asian imagery, while the large flaming mandorla and the bodhisattva’s blissful smile, which wold have made this figure more appealing and accessible to a Chinese devotee, are characteristics of early 5th century sculptures. The tall, thin body evidence an increased interest in verticality, while the crisp rendering of the figure’s skirt that falls in regular pleats and the incised flames on the mandorla are endowed with a rhythmic, almost calligraphic quality.
This figure depicts Padmapani, also known as the “lotus bearer”, a manifestation of Avalokitesvara, or Guanyin, the much-revered bodhisattva of Compassion and Mercy. The cult of Padmapani and this distinctive iconography emerged in the late 4th and early 5th century, and continued to be popular until the Tang dynasty (618-907). In this manifestation, Avalokitesvara, who is credited the creation of all things animate and is believed to impersonate the power of creation, is depicted majestically standing against a flaming mandora to display his strength. The bodhisattva is dressed like a prince, wearing a necklace and a tall crown, and holding a lotus flower, a sign of his purity and spiritual elevation.
This piece appears to be among the largest examples of the bodhisattva Padmapani from the late 4th and early 5th century, and only one larger gilt-bronze figure appears to be known: measuring 35.8 cm in height, and dated by inscription to 498, in the Nitta collection, illustrated in Ji Chong Jian, The Buddhist Bronzes, Taipei, 1994, pl. 73. A slightly smaller figure, with a cyclical date corresponding to 504, illustrated ibid., pl. 80, was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 28th/29th October 2001, lot 503; and another with a scarf draped around a shoulder, dated in accordance to 514, in the Shanghai Museum, is published ibid., pl. 82.
A much smaller figure dated to 501, is illustrated in Matsubara Saburō, Chūgoku Bukkyō chōkoku shiron [Historical survey of Chinese Buddhist sculpture], Tokyo, 1995, vol. I, pl. 107, together with a figure lacking the mandorla, in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, pl. 108b; another also dated to 501, in the Shanghai Museum, is published in Ji Chong Jie, op. cit., pl. 77, together with one dated in accordance to 500, pl. 78; one dated to 499, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Classics of the Forbidden City. Sculptures in the Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, 2014, pl. 127; and a further sculpture of Padmapani, with a cyclical date corresponding to 512, was sold at Christie's London, 16th June 1986, lot 26. See also a later example, dated to 544, from the collection of A.F. Philips, sold in these rooms, 30th March 1978, lot 34.
另比一例，尺寸遠較本品為小，斷代501，圖載於松原三郎，《中国仏教彫刻史論》，東京，1995年，卷1，圖版107，同書並載另一例，無背光，現存於三藩市亞洲藝術博物館，圖版108b；另一例斷代501年，現藏於上海博物館，圖載於季崇建，出處同上，圖版77，同書並載一例，斷代500年，圖版78；北京故宮博物院亦藏一例，斷代499年，圖載於《Classics of the Forbidden City. Sculptures in the Collection of the Palace Museum》，北京，2014年，圖版127；再比一蓮華手觀音像例，斷代512年，售於倫敦佳士得1986年6月16日，編號26。尚有一例，斷代544年，出自A.F. Philips收藏，售於倫敦蘇富比1978年3月30日，編號34。