Lot 6015. A gilt copper alloy funerary mask, Liao dynasty. Estimate US$10,000 - 15,000 (€8,900 - 13,000). Unsold. Photo: Bonhams.
Hammered from a thin copper, tin and silver alloy sheet and realistically modeled with thin, sunken eyes, wide brows setting off a long triangular nose and small mouth accenting the broad cheeks and long crescent ears, the surface covered with earthen encrustation. 7 1/4in (18.4cm) high; 8 1/8in (20.7cm) wide
Provenance: Sloan's, September 1998, lot 620.
On Loan and Exhibited: The Denver Art Museum, 1998 - 2016; (Loan 1999.2).
Published: Sui-To no bijutsu, Osaka, 1996, no. 2-32, as Five Dynasties.
Notes: Funerary masks such as this lot began to appear in the West in the early 20th century. It was Japanese archeologists during the occupation of Manchuria who identified the group as belonging to the Khitan tribes that formed the Liao dynasty (907-1125). For a review of the archeological history of these masks, Liao burial customs, and a silver-coated bronze mask at the University Museum, Philadelphia, see Jan Fontein & Tung Wu, Unearthing China's Past, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1973, cat. no. 101, pp. 192-194. See also Asia Society exhibition, Gilded Splendor: Treasures of China's Liao Empire (907-1125),, New York, 2006, pp. 100 - 101.