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A Finely Carved Rhinoceros Horn Figure of Budai, 17th Century - Photo Sotheby's 

well carved as a seated Budai, the laughing buddha wearing loose robes draped over his corpulent body, his chest and large stomach bare, his right hand resting on his upturned leg, the other hidden beneath the long sleeves, his head bald with a round and broad smiling face, the horn of rich caramel brown colour with golden undertones, inset with a black lacquered wooden base; height 6.6 cm., 2 5/8 in. Estimation: 1,000,000 - 1,500,000 HKD

PROVENANCE: Sotheby's New York, 28th November 1994, lot 125.

NOTE DE CATALOGUE: Budai, the God of Happiness, is usually depicted with a joyful expression and wide smile, wearing loosely fitted robes to reveal his large stomach. He was supposed to have carried all his belongings in his calico bag and reflected the changes in weather by the type of shoes he wore. In Buddhism, the role of Budai is to remind people of the everpresence of the Buddha and protect his laws. He is also associated with the protection of children and is often depicted with small children at play.

See a rhinoceros horn figure of a seated Budai, from the Mary and George Bloch collection and illustrated in Jan Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, pl. 99, and in Thomas Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 66, sold in these rooms, 23rd October 2005, lot 34. Another Budai carving with an inscription dating it to Wanli's reign, formerly in the Ruth Dreyfus and Sackler collections, illustrated in Jan Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, pl. 325, was sold at Christie's New York, 1st December 1994, lot 28; and a further example is published in Treasures of the Palace Museum. Bamboo. Wood. Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carvings, Shanghai, 2001, pl. 138, together with a rhinoceros horn carving of a figure of Guanyin, pl. 137. Compare also a Budai carving in the Shanghai Museum included in The Shanghai Museum of Art, New York, 1981, pl. 207; and one sold in our New York rooms, 30th March 2006, lot 133, and again at Christie's Hong Kong, 27th May 2008, lot 1727.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. Hong Kong | 09 oct. 2012 www.sothebys.com