October 9, 03:14 AM GMT
1,500,000 - 2,000,000 HKD
A finely carved and rare lapis lazuli figure of Amitabha Buddha on a white jade lotus stand,
Qing dynasty, Qianlong period
carved seated in dhyanasana with the hands in dhyana mudra and supporting an alms bowl, dressed in ample robes with voluminous sleeves and naturalistic folds, the serene meditative face beneath tightly curled hair, the stone of a rich blue colour accentuated with gold flecks, all supported on a white jade lotus base
overall h. 20.8 cm
Christie's Hong Kong, 26th April 2004, lot 995.
As one of the Seven Treasures in Buddhism, the esteemed lapis lazuli stone is often regarded as a symbol of heaven, purity and rarity. It had been known under a myriad of names, for example, it was known as qiulin during the Warring States period (475-221 BC), meaning dazzling precious stones, and as qingjinshi during the Qing dynasty (1644–1911), translating to ‘blue-gold precious stones’. It was stipulated in the Collected Statutes of the Great Qing (Qing huidian tukao) that emperors would wear a lapis lazuli belt as part of their ritual attire during the imperial sacrifices to Heaven, as the brilliant indigo colour of lapis lazuli resembles that of Heaven.
Besides its association with the heavenly celestials, the precious lapis lazuli stone was reserved solely for use by the imperial court, partly because of its scarcity and local inaccessibility. Foreign to China’s mineral topography, lapis lazuli was mainly imported from Afghanistan, with the principal mines in the remote Badakshan region of northeast Afghanistan behind the Hindu Kush.
There is little doubt that lapis lazuli was highly prized during the Qianlong period, as evidenced by a small group of objects which were dyed to imitate the natural stone. This is exemplified by an 18th-century carved stone table screen dyed to mimic lapis lazuli, in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, published in Michael Knight et al., Later Chinese Jades, Ming Dynasty to Early Twentieth Century from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, 2007, pl. 102. The craftsmen even went to the length of inserting small bits of metal to mimic the natural pyrite patterns in the stone.
The present figure belongs to a small number of votive objects carved from lapis lazuli during the Qianlong period. See a related lapis lazuli figure of Bodhisattva enclosed in a gilt-bronze and turquoise-inlaid shrine in the Qing Summer Palace at Chengde, illustrated in Buddhist Art from Rehol: Tibetan Buddhist Images and Ritual Objects from the Qing Dynasty Summer Palace at Chengde, The Chang Foundation and Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei and Kaohsiung, 1999, cat. no. 81; and another related figure in the Qing Court collection, embellished with pearls and semi-precious stones, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Treasures of Imperial Court, Hong Kong, 2004, pl. 182. For examples sold at auctions, see a lapis lazuli figure of Amitayus, without a stand, sold in our New York rooms, 17th September 2014, lot 483; and another figure of a Buddha, from the collection of William Boyce Thompson, sold in our New York rooms, 20th March 2019, lot 547.
青金石，佛教稱為吠努離或璧琉璃，屬佛教七寶之一，被古代帝皇視為上天威嚴崇高的象徵。古代稱青金石為璆琳，戰國時魏人大禹著《尚書 · 禹貢》已有記載，夏代時，位於西方的雍州曾向中央王朝進貢「璆琳」，而「琳琅滿目」的「琳」字，指的正是青金石。據《清會典圖考》記載：「皇帝朝帶，其飾天壇用青金石。」因為「青金石色相如天」，天子所用之材也。
青金石非中原之物，古時須從外域經絲路進口，甚為稀罕，向為宮廷御用。至乾隆一朝，巧匠更將玉石染為藍色，欲仿青金石深藍色澤，及其璀璨金星石質，見三藩市亞洲藝術博物館藏一端石仿青金石插屏例，載於 Michael Knight 等，《Later Chinese Jades, Ming Dynasty to Early Twentieth Century from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco》，三藩市，2007年，圖版102。
青金石佛像尤為珍罕，可參考數尊相關類例，承德避暑山莊藏一青金石菩薩坐像，載於《清宮秘藏：承德避暑山莊藏傳佛教文物特展》，鴻禧美術館及高雄市立美術館，台北及高雄，1999年，圖版81。北京故宮博物院亦一嵌寶例，為清宮舊藏，載於《故宮博物院藏文物珍品全集．宮廷珍寶》，香港，2004年，圖版182。尚有兩例可作參考，其一為無量壽佛像，無座，售於紐約蘇富比2014年9月17日，編號483；另一例，帶碧玉座，為 William Boyce Thompson 舊藏，後售於紐約蘇富比2019年3月20日，編號547。