An important large polychrome wood figure of the watermoon Guanyin. Song dynasty (960-1279). Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010
The deity is seated majestically in Lalitasana, posture of relaxation, the right arm relaxed one the raised right knee, the straightened left arm supporting the figure on its left side above the pendent left leg, wearing a simple shawl exposing the chest and loose robes knotted at the front, a beaded necklace and bracelets, the face with a calm expression beneath the hair tied up in an elaborate chignon, traces of gesso and pigment remaining - 61 1/2 in. (156 cm.) high - Estimate HK$5,800,000 - HK$6,500,000 Price Realized HK$10,180,000 ($1,317,529)
Provenance: C. T. Loo, New York
Sotheby's New York, 19 November 1982, lot 96
Christie's Hong Kong, 18 March 1991, lot 343
The Aurora Foundation
The Dexingshuwu Collection
Literature: Gugong Wenwu Yuekan, The National Palace Museum of Chinese Art, Taipei, Issue No. 189, April 1997 (front cover)
Exhibited: National Palace Museum, Taipei, The Art of Contemplation: Religious Sculptures from Private Collections, 1997, p. 194, no. 84
Notes: A number of these slightly larger than life-size wood figures, seated in this form of lalitasana posture of relation, are known in museum collections around the world. A close example of this remarkably large size given to the British Museum by the National Art-Collections Fund is illustrated in Buddhism: Art and Faith, ed. by W. Zwalf, London, 1985, p. 206, no. 296. Another smaller example (109.2 cm. high) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is illustrated in Hai-wai Yi-Chen, Chinese Art in Overseas Collections, Buddhist Sculpture II, National Taipei, 1990, p. 147, no. 142. Large wood Buddhist sculptures of this type were produced between the 10th to 14th centuries in northern China's two pre-eminent Buddhist centres of Taiyuan and Wutai Mountain, both in Shanxi province. In this instance, the fleshed out limbs and naturalistic facial features of the present sculpture are distinctive of the Song period, and differ to the delicate-limbed deities of the earlier Tang dynasty.
The modelling of the present figure seated at ease with the left leg pendent is often termed by the name of Watermoon Guanyin or Nanhai Guanyin (the Avalokitesvara of the Southern Seas). Both names refer to the Guanyin residing at Mount Potalak on the southern coast of India, and the imagery was introduced into China with the translation of the Avatamsaka (Huayan) sutra in the early 5th century.
Christie's. The Imperial Sale Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art. 31 May 2010 . Hong Kong www.christies.com