Please note the dating of this lot is consistent with its Oxford Authentication Ltd. thermoluminescence test result, no. N115a44.
A closely related bronze 'Water-Moon' Avalokiteshvara figure attributed to the Song period, from the collection of Grenville L. Winthrop (1864-1943) and now at the Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, is illustrated in Hugo Munsterberg, Chinese Buddhist Bronzes, Tokyo, 1967, pl. 68 (fig. 1). Munsterberg states 'the most outstanding of the seated Kuan-yin figures of the Sung period is without question the superb example in the Winthrop collection of the Fogg Museum...The style is also typically Sung, with soft contours, flowing lines, and a soft, painterly manner...The attitude expressed by the image is also characteristic, having the air of elegance and languid sophistication associated with this age of refinement,' ibid., p. 70. The casting of the present figure with that of the Winthrop example suggests these two figures were cast in the same studio.
Compare as well a Jin dynasty polychrome wood figure in the same pose, dated by inscription to the year 1168, with the figure leaning the proper left elbow on a rocky outcrop, now in the Yale University Art Gallery Collection, acc. no. 1956.39.1. A bronze 'Water-Moon' figure attributed to the Song dynasty, smaller and with a grotto behind the figure, sold in these rooms 15th March 2017, lot 542.
The earliest dated depiction of 'Water-Moon' Avalokiteshvara is in the lower right corner of a painting of the thousand-armed and thousand-eyed emanation of the bodhisattva, dated 943 and from the Mogao Grottoes, Dunhuang, now preserved in the collection of the Musée Guimet, Paris, and illustrated in Denise Patry Leidy and Donna Strahan, Wisdom Embodied: Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2010, pl. 87. In this image, the brilliant halo that encircles the deity resembles a full moon. As Chun-fang Yu discusses in Latter Days of the Law: Images of Chinese Buddhism, 850-1850, Lawrence, Kansas, 1994, p. 156, the 'Water-Moon' version was often represented by artisans at Dunhuang. Many of these works were completed between the 10th and 13th centuries, suggesting the importance placed on this particular emanation of the bodhisattva during this period.
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