An important fragmentary relief head of an attendant Sui dynasty-Tang dynasty, ca. 7th century | 隋至唐 約七世紀 石浮雕神首殘件
Property from an important French private collection | 法國重要私人收藏
Property from an important French private collection
An important fragmentary relief head of an attendant
Sui dynasty-Tang dynasty, ca. 7th century
the fragment carved in soft rounded volume with a relief head, the serene face portrayed with a meditative expression, with slender hooded eyes below arched brows, a straight nose and pursed lips, all framed by long pendulous earlobes and a tall tiara above the hairline, mounted on a wood stand
16.5 cm, 6½ in.
Important fragment de tête de divinité en pierre sculptée, dynastie Sui-dynastie Tang, circa VIIE siècle
隋至唐 約七世紀 石浮雕神首殘件
16.5 公分， 6½英寸
Very fine lines suggest that the head may have been broken in several places. There is overall wear to the surface, the top of the nose is missing. Traces of red pigment.
"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."
Yvonne Moreau Gobard, 9th March 1974.
Yvonne Moreau Gobard，1974年3月9日
A handwritten note by Yvonne Moreau-Gobard dated 9th March 1974 and identifying the origin of the figure as Longmen grotto no. 16, accompanies this lot.
附Yvonne Moreau Gobard 1974年3月9日親筆驗證此像源自龍門石窟第16窟
Compare the present fragment with an 'Longmen' relief fragment dated to the 6th century, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 8th October 2013, lot 111, from the collection of Sakamoto Gorō. Although stylistically related with its tall tiara and facial expression, the present head may probably be dated to the later Sui to Tang dynasty when figures of this type were depicted with less angular carving and a more rounded face. See for example a Sui to Tang dynasty sandstone relief head of an attendant, also from the collection of Sakamoto Gorō and sold in the same sale, ibid. lot 129. Compare as well a limestone wall fragment of a flying apsaras dated to the later Northern Wei period from the Longmen Caves, sold in our New York rooms, 19th-20th March 2007, lot 506, from the Collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
Whether from Luoyang area, just as from the famous sites near Gongxian, Xiangtangshan, Yungang and Tianlongshan, scattered through north and central China, surviving fragments of peripheral elements like the present fragmentary head are extremely rare, perhaps even more so than those of their accompanying primary Buddha figures.
It is difficult to precisely identify the present divinity from the simple floral design on her tiara, unlike the occurrence of a small bouddha for example which would identify the figure as Avalokitechvara. Yvonne Moreau-Gobard in her hand written note about the present piece identifies it as Shakyamuni's disciple Ananda who in the Buddhist pantheon represents understanding and wisdom while Kasyapa, who is foremost in asceticism, represents practice. However Ananda is more typically depicted as a youthful bare-headed monk and not wearing a tiara. Therefore the present sculpture is more likely to represent another attendant or an apsaras.
參照一件六世紀龍門式觀音頭像，香港蘇富比「坂本五郎珍藏中國藝術」拍賣會2013年10月8日售出，編號111。兩者皆頂戴高冠，開臉風格相若，然而此佛首應為晚隋至唐代所作，其時龍門石窟式佛像棱角較少，面相更顯圓潤。另一近例可見同為蘇富比「坂本五郎珍藏中國藝術」拍賣會售出之隋唐砂岩石浮雕羅漢頭像，編號129。參見一北魏晚期龍門石窟石灰石飛天像雕刻殘件，售於紐約蘇富比2007年3月19日至20日，編號506，屬 Albright-Knox 美術館舊藏。無論來自洛陽地區還是華北、華中鞏縣、響堂山、雲崗、天龍山等名窟，現存與本品相近之佛首殘件均屬極罕，比諸同組之釋迦牟尼主像更為珍貴。
冠上綴佛，乃觀音造像之特徵，而本像寶冠僅飾簡單花卉，故此難以準確辨認身份。Yvonne Moreau-Gobard 親筆書寫筆記，陳述此像為釋迦牟尼侍者阿難。阿難尊者為佛陀弟子，多聞博達，智慧無礙。另一名弟子迦葉少欲知足，苦行第一。然而，阿難尊者形象多為年輕僧侶，無髮，亦不戴冠，因此此佛首的身份應該另有其人，或為其他弟子，亦可能或飛天。