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A parcel-gilt silver repousse figure of Padmasambhava in the aspect of Nyima Oser Tibet, 18th century. Pre-sale estimate $60,000-80,000. Photo: Bonhams

NEW YORK, N.Y.- Bonhams is thrilled to participate in New York City’s Asia Week 2011, which brings together a variety of art outlets to celebrate Asian art from China, India, Japan, Korea, the Himalayas and Southeast Asia. Bonhams will highlight this week with two sales on September 13, 2011—The Sartin Collection of Asian Art and Fine Japanese Works of Art.

The Sartin Collection of Asian Art
The Sartin Collection of Asian Art auction comes from the impressive collection of Peter Sartin, a major supporter of the Pacific Asia Museum and one who had an eye for the unusual and rare. Predominantly consisting of Tibetan, Nepalese and Indian art and artifacts, several objects in the sale were included in the Pacific Asia Museum’s landmark exhibition titled “Wooden Wonders: Tibetan Furniture in Secular and Religious Life” (2004-2005).

Edward Wilkinson, Bonhams Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art Consultant, states, “This is the most important collection of Tibetan furniture to appear at auction, and combined with the extremely important group of silver works, it presents a wonderful opportunity for connoisseurs and new collectors alike.”

Among this exhibited collection there are several highlights to this sale. Of particular note is a 15th-16th century luminous red painted trunk with two striking “stupas” on the front. In remarkably good condition, this trunk represents the highest standards of Tibetan furniture making, with a pre-sale estimate of $15,000-20,000.

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A storage chest. Tibet, 16th/17th century. Photo: Bonhams

Ground mineral pigments, cloth wood and metal; the tray top with partial remaining decoration of a floral cartouche above a front panel decorated with a deer supported by a large lotus and surrounding leaves within a cusped cartouche. The surrounding flower head trellis pattern is enclosed by gold scrolling form spandrels and similar border. The sides are painted with jeweled offerings. 30 ½ x 11 x 16 ½ in. (77.5 x 27.9 x 41.9 cm.). Estimate: US$10,000 - 15,000
 
Note: As noted in the exhibition catalogue (p. 234) ".. the central cartouche is painted with a mythical animal with a backswept horn resembling Yuan (1279-1368), or earlier, forms of Chinese qilin – or unicorn.

Provenance: Acquired from Tony Anninos, San Francisco 2004

Published: David Kamansky, editor, Wooden Wonders: Tibetan Furniture in Secular and Religious Life, Chicago, 2004, no. 58, p. 234.

Exhibited: Wooden Wonders: Tibetan Furniture in Secular and Religious Life, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, CA, Nov. 13, 2004 – February 13, 2005, no. 58.
 
Greatly important and extremely rare are three 15th-16th century altar tables (estimated at $8,000-12,000, $5,000-8,000 and $4,000-6,000, respectively). These tables each consist of prolific carved aprons and cabriole legs. The detailing exudes the distinctive Tibetan style of power and grace.
 
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An altar table. Tibet, circa 15th century. Photo: Bonhams
 
Ground mineral pigments and wood; the plain rectangular top above a foliate carved inset panel frieze and similar deep apron, centered by a precious jewel, raised on elaborate cabriole legs with scrolling floral terminals. 24 ¼ x 10 ½ x 15 in. (61.6 x 26.7 x 38.1 cm.). Estimate: US$8,000 - 12,000
 
Published: David Kamansky, editor, Wooden Wonders: Tibetan Furniture in Secular and Religious Life, Chicago, 2004, no. 9, p. 185.

Exhibited: Wooden Wonders: Tibetan Furniture in Secular and Religious Life, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, CA, Nov. 13, 2004 – February 13, 2005.

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An altar table. Tibet, 15th/17th century. Photo: Bonhams

Wood with traces of pigments; the rectangular top above a heavily carved frieze with five large flower heads raised on short cabriole legs.
21 ½ x 11 x 15 in. (54 x 27.9 x 38.1 cm.). Estimate: US$5,000 - 8,000
 
Provenance: Acquired from Lucca Corona, Kathmandu, Nepal, 2004
 
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An altar table. Tibet, 16th/17th century. Photo: Bonhams

Wood with traces of pigments; the rectangular inset tray top painted red above a deep frieze with three inset floral cartouches supported by a front panel of carved heavy floral and scrolling forms. 30 x 15 x 20 in. (76.2 x 38.1 x 50.8 cm.). Estimate: US$4,000 - 6,000
Provenance: Acquired from Ian Alsop, Santa Fe, 2004.

Published: David Kamansky, editor, Wooden Wonders: Tibetan Furniture in Secular and Religious Life, Chicago, 2004, no. 23, p. 200.

Exhibited: Wooden Wonders: Tibetan Furniture in Secular and Religious Life, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, CA, Nov. 13, 2004 – February 13, 2005.
 
In addition to furniture, is a highly important collection of Tibetan ritual silver objects, some of which are the finest known examples in private hands. One particular highlight, among several, is an 18th century parcel-gilt silver repoussé of figure of Padmasambhava. The Padmasambhava sculpture is a portrait of the historical figure who was responsible for establishing Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet in the 8th century. He is depicted in the form of Nyima Oser, one of his eight manifestations (est. $60,000-80,000).
 
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A parcel-gilt silver repoussé figure of Padmasambhava in the aspect of Nyima Oser. Tibet, 18th century. Photo: Bonhams
 
Inset stones and based seal with original contents; In the appearance of a mahasiddha he gazes directly ahead with a benevolent expression. Adorned with a skull crown around a high topknot, he wears an incised sash across his right shoulder that partially covers a large pectoral secured by four double-beaded bands tied by dorjes . He wears a tiger skin dhoti and is seated on a lotus platform with scalloped leaves. A katvanga staff rests on right left shoulder and the left hand rests in his lap. The right hand is placed across the knee performs a mudra with the index finger extended and would have likely held a lasso. 30 ¾ in. (78 cm.). Estimate: US$60,000 - 80,000
 
Provenance: Sotheby's, London, June 13 and 14, 1988, lot 106
Collection of Kate Kemper
Christie's, New York, September 23, 2004, lot 156

The identity of this sculpture has been subject to variations over the past twenty years. However, with the presence of the katvanga staff, skull crown and arrangement of the hands this would appear to be certainly a manifestation of Padmasambhava in the form of Nyima Oser.

The contents that were used to concecrate the sculture when it was made were revealed when the sculpture was sold by Sotheby's, London in 1988. Directly after the sale the sculpture was resealed with the contents and it has remained intact since then. The contents are recorded to include a silver prayer wheel, an iron purba, a silver gau box, multiple inscribed and illustrated prayer scrolls, tsa-tsa, mala beads and counters, various cloth fragments and pouches, teeth of venerated lamas, and lengths of human hair identified to owners 
 
In terms of refinement, the silver ritual vase offered in this sale is an ideal representation of great attention to detail with its staggering complex display of skeletal figures, skull bowls and animals associated with the charnel grounds. Because of its rarity, it was most likely kept in a private chapel and only used for specials ceremonies (est. $50,000-80,000).
 
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A ritual offering vase with Smashana Adipati. Tibeto-Chinese, circa 18th century. Photo: Bonhams

Raised on a tapered lotus foot, the body of the vase is decorated with scenes of the cremation or charnel grounds between a sea of flames and beaded garlands. Ornamented with various ritual implements including; a flaming sword, ritual axe, and conch as well as birds of prey, and mythical beasts. Scattered in the composition are a variant of the seven gems of the chakravartin including; a coral branch, a pair of elephant tusks, a three-eyed jewel, a unicorn horn, the three gems, crossed pair of measuring rulers, a pair of king's earrings and a pair of queen's earrings. The primary elements of the dancing skeletons (chitipat), showing the male holding a skull-tipped scepter and a skull bowl, while the female holds a stalk of grain and a vase. These figures are divided by flaming skull cups, one filled with the five sense offerings, the other filled with nectar and a dragon head at the rim. The projecting ruffled rim and row of skulls support four nagas with raised heads that encircle two bands of water and mountain motifs below a band of kirttimukha, and another with an ocean containing makaras, a man rowing a boat filled with jewels and Chinese style pavilion. The flared rim is supported by a waisted lotus and cloud forms around the broad mouth. 14 in. (35.7 cm.) . Estimate: US$50,000 - 80,000
 
Note: In discussion of Smashana Adipati, lords of the charnel grounds by Linrothe and Watt, Demonic and Devine: Himalayan Art and Beyond, New York, 2004, p. 128 "Smashana Adipati is one of the Sanskrit names for a dancing-skeleton couple who inhabit and preside over the (thus adipati, "lords") cremations grounds (smashana), where Indian Tantric yogins were encouraged to practice."

The actual function of this decorated vase is unclear beyond an offering, however the idea of the imagery being associated with their benevolent aspect of protecting wealth is also suggested. Furthermore in their discussion of the connection of Chitipati to the Sakya lineage (ibid, p. 126)"..both figures (Chitipati) consistently hold identical objects in their left and right hands: a skull-or skeleton-tipped scepter and a skull bowl containing swirling blood, respectively. By contrast, the Gelugpa images....usually give the female a stalk of grain and a vase signifying the bestowal of wealth."

The quality of the detailed decoration and powerful imagery place this vase at the peak of metalwork production in Tibet during the 18th century. However, the Qing Emperors were known to be strict followers of the Gelugpa order of Tibetan Buddhism and they constructed many temples in Chende, the summer retreat for the Qing court, and commissioned many sculptures and ritual items for ceremonies. The embossed silver inset panels on a ritual conch in Rehol, Chenge (see Chen Qingying, Buddhist Art from Rehol, 1999, no. 65, p. 153) are very closely related in the treatment of the animal figures and auspicious symbols. Also compare with a silver and gilt copper mandala of Vasudhara in the Art Institute of Chicago, (see Pal, Tibet: Tradition and Change, Albuquerque, 1997, pl. 77, p. 154). Furthermore, the presence of a Chinese style pagoda in a prominent position on the upper band of the neck, and the treatment of the animal forms are closely aligned with Chinese norms. These stylistic element together with the Gelupa style of imagery, make it possible that this vase was commissioned by a patron connected to imperial workshops.

Provenance: Spink & Son, Ltd., London, 1998
Private European Collection
Christie's, New York, March 25, 2004, lot 82

Exhibited: London, Spink & Son, Ltd., Body, Speech, and Mind, cat. no. 40, December 1998.
Madrid, Fundación "La Caixa", Monasterios y lamas del Tibet, cat. no. 34, November 2000-January 2001.

Published: Exhibition catalogue, Body, Speech and Mind, London, Spink & Son, Ltd., 1998, p. 76 cat. no. 40.
Ramon Prats, et. al., Monasterios y lamas del Tibet, Madrid, Fundación "La Caixa", 2000, p. 109, cat. no. 34.
 
Beyond the highlighted collection of furniture and ritual silver objects, there are numerous other rarities to be discovered within this collection. The auction will take place Mar. 13, 2011 at 10 a.m., EST at Bonhams’ New York headquarters.

Fine Japanese Works of Art
Following The Sartin Collection of Asian Art auction in the morning is the afternoon sale of Fine Japanese Works of Art. This season’s sale boasts lots that will appeal to a variety of markets and collectors.

Jeff Olson, Bonhams Director of Japanese Art, states, “Bonhams Japanese department is pleased to offer a wide variety of objects, paintings and prints in conjunction with the week of Asian art sales held in New York this September. We feel confident that there will something of interest to collectors in all categories of Japanese art.”

This auction contains several important armor lots; one in particular being the highly important Haruta-school tosei gusoku armor (est. $60,000-70,000). This high-quality armor, with completely matched elements - even the original green and orange lacing, is historically attributed to Okudaira Nobumasa. Nobumasa is considered a fulcrum in Japanese history because of his role in a key battle that changed the course of Japanese history. Inside the storage box, in which the armor is contained, is an inscription written by San Ko Shoeki, the founder of the Kyushoin temple in Kyoto where the armor is thought to be located. In the closing of his inscription, he states, “When I look at this armor I feel as if Lord Okudaira’s spirit is here with me, and I remember him and feel like he is here before me. This is surely a very important treasure of this temple.”
 
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A highly important Haruta-school tosei gusoku. Late 16th century. Photo: Bonhams

The armor of completely matched elements with original green and orange lacing intact and comprising: a thirty-two plate akoda nari kabuto lacquered black and mounted with silvered-copper fukurin and igaki pierced at the base with inoshishime, the top of the bowl adorned with a four-stage chrysanthemum-form tehen kanamono carved with vines, the five-lame Hineno-style shikoro ending in small fukigaeshi, the mabizashi finished with a "rope" edge, a gilt-bronze tsuki to hoshi maedate; the iron reisei men lacquered black and applied with a boar's bristle mustache and chin tuft, the lips lacquered red and the teeth silvered, fitted with a four-lame yodarekake; the cuirass a ni-mai maru do of iron scales laced in kebiki and fitted with seven sections of four-lame kusazuri, the front of the cuirass applied with a small gilt-copper gumbai and hexagonal medallions containing plum florets, the heraldic crests of the Okudaira clan; tosei sode; oda gote; shino suneate; kawara haidate; one wood storage box; no armor stand. Estimate: US$60,000 - 70,000

奥平信昌 当世具足 16世紀後期

Provenance: Okudaira Nobumasa (1555–1615)
Kyushoin Temple, Kyoto, the Okudaira family temple

Published: Nakamura Tatsuo, Ken to yoroi to rekishi (Kyoto: Kennin Shoku, 1999)

Nakamura Tatsuo, Nakamura Koutoushushikan: Kitaku zoushin zuroku (Kyoto: Kennin Shoku, 1999)

Note: This armor is historically attributed to Okudaira Nobumasa. The historical attribution is supported by an inscription (hako gaki) on the inside of the box written by San Ko Shoeki, the founder of the Kyushoin temple in Kyoto where the armor is thought to have been located until modern times. Kyushoin has a long association with the Okudaira clan. The inscription in the box is believed to be authentic as it is written in old Japanese script (kanbun) and uses nuances and phrases relevant to the era in question.

The armor is typical of a high-quality armor produced by the Haruta group during the Warring States period (sengoku jidai)in Japan (1467-1610) during the lifespan of Okudaira Nobumasa. The helmet shows alterations on the inside that are typical of alterations done to armors that were made during the second half of the 1500s and updated before the battle of Sekigahara. The fukurin or metal piping on the helmet is plated with silver rather than with gold, which was much more typical. The fabric of the leg protectors is black velvet, which is known to have been imported by Portuguese traders and employed for use in very high-quality armors made by the Haruta group during the late-16th and early-17th centuries. The front of cuirass is decorated with small badges (kanamon), a decorative motif that became popular among Samurai who had served in the Korean campaigns under Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598) in the early 1590s. After the Battle of Sekigahara (21st day of the 9th month of 1600), the custom fell out of fashion and virtually all of these kanamono were removed. It is rare to find an armor with these articles still intact. In its current state, this armor appears as it did in 1600 when it was last worn into the Battle of Sekigahara (21st day of the 9th month of 1600).

Okudaira Nobumasa (born Sadamasa) is considered a fulcrum in Japanese history since his role at a key battle changed the course of Japanese history. His birth name was Sadamasa and he was originally a retainer of the Tokugawa clan but was forced into service with Takeda Shingen (1521–1573). Upon Takeda Shingen's death, Sadamasa left the service of the Takeda clan and rejoined Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616). His action enraged Shingen's son, Takeda Katsuyori (1546–1582), who had Okudaira's wife, children and brother crucified for the action. Then, in 1575, Katsuyori besieged Okudaira at Nagashino Castle, which guarded the gateway to Mikawa, Ieyasu's hometown. Okudaira, with a force of 500, made a stubborn defense against the Takeda force of 15,000. Fueled by the fire of retribution for the execution of his family, Okudaira was able to hold out long enough for the Oda and Tokugawa forces to rally. Because the siege wore the Takeda forces down and allowed the allies to organize and set up their defenses, the Takeda lost the battle. This was a major turning point which ultimately lead to the end of the Warring States period. Without the efforts and loyalty of Okudaira, the Warring States period may have continued much longer.

For his service at the siege of Nagashino Castle, Okudaira was given permission from Oda Nobunaga (1534–1582) to use the first character of his name "Nobu" and change his name from Sadamasa to Nobumasa. Tokugawa Ieyasu awarded him Nagashino Castle and married his eldest daughter, Kamehime, to him. He was later awarded the territory of Miyasaki, which had an income of 30,000 koku. For his service at the Battle of Sekigahara on the side of the Tokugawa, Okudaira was appointed the first Kyoto Shoshidai or special attaché of the Shogun to the Emperor under the Tokugawa government. Later he was rewarded with the Kano domain in Mino province, which was a 100,000 koku income territory. He died in 1615 at the age of 59.
 
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Inside the box is a separate piece of paper that reads "Written by Master Sanko." This was likely written by a monk of the temple who was a follower of Sanko Shoeki, the founder of the temple.

The inscription on the inside of the box may be translated as follows:

Explanation of this armor in the Kyushoin temple (of the Kenninji Temple complex) owned by Okudaira Nobumasa.

This armor previously belonged to Lord Okudaira descendant of Taira Nobumasa of Sakushu, and trusted and loyal retainer to the Shogun (Tokugawa Ieyasu). I was his close friend.

He played the most important role and rendered distinctive service at Nagashino when he showed great bravery in the face of the enemy and did not retreat even when outnumbered 1000 to 1 and was bestowed rewards for his actions.

He was not just a strong warrior but an accomplished intellectual and educated gentlemen who was multi-talented and was accomplished in the ways of poetry, manner, calligraphy, tea ceremony, etc.

Not only did he accomplish many great things, but he was proper and respectful and made sacrifices for the good of the country, and was a great man.

When I look at this armor I feel as if Lord Okudaira's spirit is here with me and I remember him and feel like he is here before me.

This is surely a very important treasure of this temple.

June 14th in the 16th year of the Kanei Era (1637)
23 years after the death of Lord Nobumasa

I (the old) Sanko Shoeki reflect on my memories and write this account.

Signed with kao.

Also in the sale is a breadth of work by 20th century Japanese painter, woodblock print maker and world traveler Yoshida Hiroshi. Bonhams is privileged to continue these offerings from the Collection of Yoshida Chizuko, his daughter-in-law, after two successful sales in 2006 and 2008. Highlights from the 67 lots offered during this sale include several non-Japanese subjects done in traditional Japanese woodblock style. During his 1924 tour of North America, he was inspired greatly by several landscapes, including an oil on canvas titled Niagara Falls (1924) (est. $4,000-6,000) ; Lake Louise (1924) (est. $4,000-6,000); Grand Canyon (1924) (est. $8,000-12,000); and Southwest Landscape (1924) (est.$4,000-6,000). Several subjects he revisited a year later, to complete woodblock prints, such as the 1925 woodcut entitled Yosemitto-koku erukyapitan (El Capitan in Yosemite Valley) (est. $8,000-12,000). To name a few of the other series of his work covered in this sale are “Europe,” “Ten Views of Fuji” and “India and Southwest Asia.”
 
Another highlight is a hanging scroll titled “Beauty and Emma-O” by Kawanabe Kyosai, who is known for his lively compositions and virtuoso draftsmanship. As represented in this painting and several of his other works, is the King of Hell ready to hand out punishment to sinners. In this particular work, the King of Hell holds up a mirror where he sees the reflection of a disheveled courtesan waiting for punishment (est. $6,000-8,000).
 
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Kawanabe Kyosai (1831-1889). Beauty and Emma-O. Photo: Bonhams

Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk; a King of Hell holds up a mirror, looking gleefully down at the courtesan and attendant reflected on it; signed Seisei Kyosai ga and sealed Ichiji sen shi. With wood box inscribed Kyosai sensei jigoku dayu no zu and with lot tag 48. 48 1/2 x 19 1/2in (123.2 x 49.5cm). Estimate: US$6,000 - 8,000
 
Provenance: Baron Honda, sold Kanazawa Bijutsu Club, 1936

Published: Tokyo Honda Danshaku ke Hayashi ke/Zohin nyusatsu mokuroku (Baron Honda Family and Hayashi Family/catalogue of collection), Showa 11 (1937), Kanazawa Bijutsu Kurabu.

Note: Kyosai is known for his lively compositions and virtuoso draftsmanship. His life straddled both the Edo and Meiji periods and was also popular as a caricaturist despite his multiple arrests by the shogunate and the new government. He made several paintings based on similar subject matter – the King of Hell ready to hand out punishments to sinners. The large figure in the background is the King of Hell, symbolized by the character "O" (king) in his crown. The sinner awaiting punishment is shown reflected in his mirror, revealing the wrong-doings that led the deceased to his realm. In this painting expression on the face of the woman is somber, and her hair disheveled, yet she is dressed in beautifully decorated robes. The obi tied in the front indicates she had been a courtesan in her lifetime. Perhaps the apsara or heavenly deity shown on her obi is a symbol of repentance as she is about to face her fate.

The title on the box and the catalogue entry for the Bijutsu Club sale identifies this painting as Jigoku daiyu (Hell Courtesan), a subject for which Kyosai was well known.
 
This auction takes place September 13, 2011 at 1 p.m., EST at Bonhams’ New York headquarters.