Wenshu or Manjushri is referred to in the orthodox sutra Shoulengyuan Sanweijing as the 'Mother and Tutor of Buddhas', hence he is often depicted holding a scroll, the symbol of wisdom, with both hands. He can also be seen with the Sword of Wisdom which he uses to eliminate worries, or seated on a lion which shows his overwhelming power and invincible status. Traditionally, Wenshu has been worshipped as one of the most popular and respected deities in both Buddhism and Daoism.
The present figure is superbly modelled and cast seated gracefully in the dhyanasa. Stylistically it is related to and influenced by early Yuan dynasty seated figures of Wenshu; for example see a wooden sculpture attributed to the Yuan period, in the British Museum, London, illustrated in Saburo Matsubara, Chugoku bukkyochokokushiron, Tokyo, 1995, vol. 3, pl. 850. Compare also a gilt-bronze figure of Manjushri seated on a lion, attributed to the 14-15th centuries, included in the Special Exhibition of Recently Acquired Gilt-Bronze Buddhist Images, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1996, cat. no. 20; and another related figure of a slightly earlier period exhibited in The Crucible of Compassion and Wisdom, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1987, cat. no. 103.
See also a seated figure of Wenshu, similarly holding a scroll with both hands, sold in our London rooms, 9th June 1992, lot 25; and a figure of Avalokitesvara that stylistically belongings to this group, sold in our New York rooms, 20th March 2007, lot 740.