122
122
A POLYCHROME SANDSTONE RELIEF CARVING OF A PHOENIX
TANG DYNASTY
Estimation
100 000150 000
Lot. Vendu 212,500 HKD (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT
122
A POLYCHROME SANDSTONE RELIEF CARVING OF A PHOENIX
TANG DYNASTY
Estimation
100 000150 000
Lot. Vendu 212,500 HKD (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Chinese Art through the Eye of Sakamoto Gorō

|
Hong Kong

A POLYCHROME SANDSTONE RELIEF CARVING OF A PHOENIX
TANG DYNASTY
the sandstone slab of pale buff tone accented with colour pigments, carved in high relief with a yellow and red-feathered phoenix perched on a rocky ledge, naturalistically detailed with a curved beak above pendulous wattles and feathery crest, turning its head sharply towards the tip of its outstretched right wing while raising his left claw, the head, wing feathers and cragged promontory defined with incisions and coloured in maroon, the hackle, breast and claws pigmented yellow, with traces of green pigment
29 cm., 11 3/8  in.
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Provenance

Acquired between the 1950s and 60s.

Description

The phoenix (feng huang) in China has historically been considered as the ruler of all birds and appears on stone carvings and other works of art as early as the Han dynasty (206 BC – AD 220) when it represented good omen. See a Han dynasty relief carving in the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, depicting a phoenix perched in the fork of the auspicious wutong tree, illustrated in Thomas Lawton, ‘Two Han Funerary Reliefs’, Oriental Art, vol. VI, no. 3, 1960, p. 95, pl. 2. Apart from its auspicious connotation, the phoenix later came to represent the Empress and was often depicted together with the dragon that symbolized the Emperor.

Compare two relief carvings of standing phoenixes, with almost vertically raised tails and heads turned backwards, as seen here, from the von der Heydt collection, illustrated in Osvald Sirén, Chinese Sculptures in the von der Heydt Collection, Zurich, 1959, pl. 37. Sirén describes these birds as supports for an arch over one of the broad niches in cave no. 16 at Tianlongshan in Shanxi province. This Buddhist cave temple complex, dating from the mid-sixth century, represents the Tang dynasty style of religious carving when the sensuous and voluptuous sculptural form came into fashion.

See also a slightly earlier, Northern Wei period, relief carving of a phoenix published in Yungang shiku [Yungang grottoes], Beijing, 1977, pl. 40, from cave no. 8 at the Yungang cave complex near Datong, Shanxi province, which may have served as the blueprint for later carvings. 

Chinese Art through the Eye of Sakamoto Gorō

|
Hong Kong