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Lot 7.  Rare Schist Figure of Fasting Buddha, Ancient region of Gandhara, 2nd-4th century. Estimate: €480,000 - €600,000Photo Auctionata AG

NEW YORK, NY.- Auctionata, the leading online auction house, presents its Asian Art Day on December 16, 2016, featuring extremely rare and exceptional works of Asian Art via livestream auctions on www.auctionata.com. In a three-part auction series, rare sculptures, fine porcelain and exquisite paintings will be offered to bidders worldwide. 

A highlight of the series will be the auction “Important Gandhara and Early Buddhist sculptures from a European Collection” at 4:00 pm CET. This collection originates from a single European family and was founded in the 19th century. Since the 1930s, the collection has been anchored by 39 early Buddhist sculptures including sought-after treasures of Gandharan art as well as Chinese works tracing the transformation of early Buddhist art. A highlight of the sale is a Rare Schist Figure of Fasting Buddha, Gandhara, c. 2-4 CE, an extremely rare sculpture of an emaciated fasting Buddha in grey schist, originally hailing from the vast region of Gandhara or present day Pakistan and Afghanistan. The sculpture is one of less than ten known artworks depicting the historical Siddhartha Gautama during his seven-week meditation in the moment of his enlightenment and has never before been offered at auction. 

nthusiasts can place absentee bids in advance or bid live on www.auctionata.com or via the Auctionata Live iPhone app from all over the world. 

Auction Highlights: Important Gandhara and Early Buddhist Sculptures:

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Lot 7.  Rare Schist Figure of Fasting Buddha, Ancient region of Gandhara, 2nd-4th century. Estimate: €480,000 - €600,000. Photo Auctionata AG

Very expressively carved figure of the seated Buddha in dhyanasana on an indicated grass mat on a pedestal, dressed in a thin, long Dhoti and scarf with deep folds sticking tightly over his body and ankles, flowing into a large loop in front of his legs
Due to the fasting, his emaciated, ascetic torso revealing his ribcage, bony shoulders, tendons, and veins, his viscera at the flat, sunken plane for the abdomen becoming visible
The Buddha's wavy hair with bun-shaped Ushnisa and the full beard framing the face with expressive, emaciated features, like gaunt cheeks and deep-set eyes, his veins and tendons visible and pointing to the strong mental and physical struggle the Buddha perfoms
The pedestal with a frieze centered by a stupa and flanked by six adorants
Height of the figure: 103 cm. The figure is in good condition consistent with age. The forearms and hands are missing. Right eyebrow and nose with some restorations.

Provenance: from an old European private collection, documented in the estate of the family since the early 20th century

Notes: The figure of the 'Emaciated Buddha' depicts the historical Siddhartha Gautama during his seven-week meditation in the moment of his enlightenment. It is worked in extraordinary detail, employing a kind of uncompromising realism of the body and the face. This feature stands in great contrast to the more stylized treatment of the garment and the overall calm expression of the Buddha, thus congenially reflecting both the intense mental and physical struggle of Siddhartha and his spiritual transcendence as the Enlightened One. The brilliant representation also gives evicence of the extraordinary carving skills of the artisans employed, who would equally apply their mastership as artists and devote believers.

Representations of the Fasting Buddha must be considered a distincttive feature of Gandharan Buddhist art and are iconic depictions taking up a similar distinct position in Gandharan Buddhist art as the formula of the idealized anthropomorphic image of Buddha.

We know of only very few images of the Emaciated Buddha, the reference sculpture being the famous example in the Lahore Museum, Pakistan, illustrated in: Masterpieces of the Lahore Museum, Lahore 2006, p. 125. A second figure, though more fragmented, belongs to the collection of the Peshawar Museum, Pakistan. It seems that very few sculptures of the Emaciated Buddha were ever made, especially of such large size. Images of this size have been dated to the later phase of Gandharan art, cf. K. Behrendt, The Art of Gandhara at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y., New York 2007, p. 57, and Fasting Buddhas, Ascetic Forest Monks, and the Rise of the Esoteric Tradition, in: Coins, Art and Chronology II, Vienna 2010, p. 301f.

A very similar figure of the Emaciated Siddhartha of the same region and period was sold at Christie's New York, 22 March 2011, lot 240. Another important and similar example was exhibited as 'Bumper Emaciated Buddha' at Nancy Wiener Gallery, New York, March 2011.

Furthermore, a gray schist sculpture of the Fasting Siddhartha from Shotorak, Kapisa, Afghanistan, former collection of the Kabul Museum, now missing, illustrated in: Marylin M. Rhie, Early Buddhist art of China and Central Asia, Leiden 2002, fig. 3.45b.

Also, a small Gandhara figure of the ‘fasting Buddha’ from the same period in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (accession no. 1987.218.5).

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Fasting Buddha Shakyamuni, Kushan period, 3rd–5th century, Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara). Schist. H. 10 15/16 in. (27.8 cm). Samuel Eilenberg Collection, Ex Coll.: Columbia University, Purchase, Rogers, Dodge, Harris Brisbane Dick and Fletcher Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1987, accession no. 1987.218.5 © 2000–2016 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Literature: Elizabeth Errington and Joe Cribb (Eds.), The Crossroads of Asia: Transformation in image and symbol in the art of ancient Afghanistan and Pakistan, London 1992, p. 227ff.

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Lot 13: A Gray Schist Figure of Seated Maitreya, Ancient region of Gandhara, 2nd-4th century. Estimate: €80,000 - €100,000Photo Auctionata AG

Figure of the seated future Buddha Maitreya as bodhisattva, cross-legged with his soles pointing upwards resting on a draped plinth, his hands performing the dyanamudra, behind his head a circular halo
His wavy hair is bound into a topknot and falls down sidewards across his shoulders in undulating rows
His face with harmonious features and a gently rounded chin, the heavy-lidded almond-shaped eyes are finely arched beneath sharp-edged brows, a fine aquiline modelled nose and a bow-shaped mouth with full lips, a prominent urna at the forehead
Princely bejewelled, his breast is bare with indicated ribcage, his stole is draped in folds across his left shoulder, and flowing into a large loop in front of his legs
He is richly bejewelled with heavy bracelets and earrings, a collar round his neck and heavy chains falling between his breasts and across the right shoulder with a third diagonal cord running across his chest and below his armpit
The draped plinth with a carved frieze in relief of the future Buddha Maitreya seated in European posture flanked by six worshippers 
Wooden base (later)
Height of the figure: c. 85 cm

The figure is in good condition, consistent with age and wear. A vertical tension crack on the left side of the body running from the armpit down to the left knee.

Provenance: from an old European private collection, documented in the estate of the family since the early 20th century.

: Images of the future Buddha Maitreya, who will be born to teach enlightenment in the next age, became increasingly popular when Buddhist art spread through Gandhara to China. Endowed with a similar narrative and iconography as the historical Buddha, Maitreya is regularly depicted as a bodhisattva seated on a raised plinth with adorants, the hands in the gesture of meditation, wearing long flowing robes and armlets, his hair tied in a topknot and backed by a nimbus. The deeply carved lines of the drapery, the hairdo, and jewelry often found in Gandharan depictions of Maitreya, are reminiscent of Hellenistic sculptures in the naturalistic attention to anatomical details. These features are also direct references to Greco-Roman imagery.

A schist figure of the seated Maitreya of the same region and period was sold at Christie's, New York, 20 September 2006, lot 36, a further related figure at Bonhams, New York, 18 September 2013, lot 60.

Also, compare a similar seated figure of the Bodhisattva Maitreya from the Swat Valley, Pakistan in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (IM.4-1911) from the same period.

For another related example, see H. Ingholt, Gandharan Art in Pakistan, 1957, cat. no. 302, p. 137.

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Lot 28: Limestone Figure of a Guanyin on a Lotus Base, China, 5th-6th century, possibly Shandong province. Estimate: €28,800 - €36,000Photo Auctionata AG

Figure of a standing bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Guanyin) on a lotus base with two flanking lions, in her left hand a kundika, the right arm missing
The face serene with downcast eyes and a gentle smile, wearing a tiara with lotus disc and a medium-relief figure of the Amitabha Buddha
The fully formed fleshy head stands on a slender body, the shoulders draped with a pleated shawl falling over the arms and sides, all rendered with intricate and rich details of softly modeled drapery folds and elaborate jewelry
Height: 100 cm

The figure is in good condition consistent age and restorations. Restored fractures at the neck and above the feet. Some resored parts at the hairdress.

Provenance: from an old European private collection.

Notes: The development of Buddhist art in China was dependent not only on an original transmission from India, but also on the creative adaptations and inventions by Chinese artists and patrons. The Sini?cation of Buddhist art by the ?fth and sixth centuries is based on native Chinese taste that gradually transformed Buddhist art into something speci?cally Chinese, represented, for example, by the more familiar Chinese style of robe and facial type.

The limestone statue represents an appealing image of the bodhisattva type fashioned during the Wei dynasties through the Northern Qi and early Sui periods. With fine even features, the body in the classic, slightly swaying pose, this figure exhibits the outstanding carving quality of the Chinese sculptures of the Northern periods. Particularly noteworthy is the shallow relief of the multi-layered drapery with flat linear and highly stylized folds ending in rhythmical wave-like edges.

Compare two related figures of a standing Guanyin from the Sui dynasty (6th century) in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York ((Acc. No. 42.25.3a, b; 29.100.32a, b).

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Bodhisattva, probably Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin), China, Sui dynasty (581–618), late 6th century. Limestone with traces of pigment. H. 73 in. (185.4 cm). Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, 1942. Acc. No. 42.25.3a, b © 2000–2016 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin), China, probably Sui dynasty (581–618), Style of the late 6th–early 7th century. Limestone with traces of pigment. H. 39 2/3 in. (100.8 cm). H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929. Acc. No. 29.100.32a, b © 2000–2016 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Furthermore, a related Stone figure of a bodhisattva from the Northern Qi dynasty (550-577) was sold at Sotheby's London, 15 May 2013, lot 147.

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Stone figure of a bodhisattva, Northern Qi dynasty (550-577). Estimate 150,000 — 200,000 GBP. Lot sold 182,500 GBP at Sotheby's London, 15 May 2013, lot 147. Photo: Sotheby's.

carved standing with the right arm raised to the chest and the left holding an amphora bottle, dressed in a dhoti with a knotted sash falling to the knees, the shoulders draped with a pleated shawl falling over the arms and sides, further embellished with beaded jewels, the benevolent face crowned with an elaborate headdress, all raised on a rectangular plinth. Quantité: 2 - 52cm., 20 1/2 in.

Provenance: A Hong Kong Private Collection, 1970s.

Notes: This exceptionally well carved and preserved figure is a classic example of north China’s Buddhist stone sculpture of the Northern Qi period (550-577), one of the most innovative and iconic periods for the art of stone carving. The small figure is exquisitely detailed, with fine even features, the body in the classic, slightly swaying pose. Carved fully in the round, it is conceived as a free-standing figure to be viewed from all sides, the pointed peg underneath the plinth roughened to slot safely into a lotus pedestal. The artist masterfully handled the stark contrast between the plump face and fleshy hands and feet on the one hand, and the highly stylized, flat linear garment folds on the other. The shallow relief of the clothing is particularly effective to highlight the high relief of the complex crown and jewellery, as well as the crisp knot of the ribbon-like shawl that is tied between the knees. 

The figure is reminiscent in material, carving style and finish of some of the magnificent Northern Qi sculptures of the Xiangtangshan Caves at Hecun near Fengfeng, Hebei province, which are closely related to the Northern Qi court, although the carvings at that cave temple tend to be rough on most of the reverse and are often attached to the rock face at least in one area.

Related but much larger figures of Bodhisattvas can be seen in the south cave of Northern Xiangtangshan, where engraving activity is noted for the period 568-72, although figure carving there is believed to have started earlier. Compare two Bodhisattva figures with similar garments and jewellery, in situ on the east and south walls of the cave, see Echoes of the Past. The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan, David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Chicago, 2010, p. 37, fig. 18 right and 19 right, and p.192 fig. 6 right.

Similar jewellery and bejewelled crowns, and similar garment folds particularly around the feet, which are also rendered in a similar style and resting on similarly shaped plinths, can again be seen on several massive, over life-size figures from Southern Xiangtangshan: see, for example, ibid., pp. 202ff, cat. nos 19-23 and 30, for a Bodhisattva figure from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond (crown), two Bodhisattvas in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia (feet, jewels and folds), another in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (feet and folds), a Pratyekabuddha from the Pennsylvania Museum (folds), as well as a Bodhisattva head in the Freer Gallery with similar face and ornaments to the crown. 

Compare also a fragmentary hand of Maitreya from the North Cave of Northern Xiangtangshan, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, illustrated ibid., p. 123, fig. 20. 

Stylistically similar are also a Bodhisattva figure and three heads tentatively attributed to these Caves, ibid., pp. 228ff., cat. nos 31 and 32, and pp. 251f., nos 89 – 91: the figure in the San Diego Museum of Art, with similar jewellery, the heads in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Museum, and the San Diego Museum, all with similarly bejewelled crowns. 

This carving style, which was patronized by the Northern Qi royal court is, however, not only seen at Xiangtangshan, but appears to have been influential throughout this short dynasty and can also be seen on other figures such as, for example, the large figure of a Bodhisattva in the Minneapolis Institute of Art, dated in accordance with AD 570, illustrated in Osvald Sirén, Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteenth Century, London, 1925, pl. 273, which is also comparable in its full round face; or a Sui dynasty (581-618) figure with a circular halo, from the collection of Miss Belle da Costa Greene, New York, and now in the Cincinnati Art Museum, illustrated ibid., pl. 308; a Guanyin figure in the Art Museum, Detroit, standing in a similar pose and similarly holding a bottle, dated to the first year of the Sui dynasty, AD 581, ibid., pl. 305 A; and the representation of the feet, the highly stylized folds of the robe around them, and the shape of the plinth can also be very similarly seen on two other bodhisattvas, ibid., pl. 331 A and B; or another much larger Northern Qi figure from central Shanxi province and now preserved in the Shanxi Provincial Museum, carved in much lower relief, published in Li Jingjie, Shi fo xuancui/Essence of Buddhistic Statues, Beijing, 1995, pl.115, where free-standing Buddhist stone sculptures are discussed. 

Compare also two figures of related size, a slightly smaller one with a similar pointed base to slot into a stand, sold a Christie’s London, 11th November 2003, lot 12; and a somewhat larger sculpture offered at Christie’s New York, 20thSeptember 2005, lot 141.

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Lot 14: Terracotta Head of a Bearded Man, Ancient region of Gandhara, 3rd-5th centuryPhoto Auctionata AG

Powerfully and naturalistically carved head of a bearded ascetic man with his wavy hair pulled sideward into a knot on top of the head
Deep wrinkles above the finely chiselled nose
Sunken eyes with shaped lids below angular carved, raised eyebrows, gaunt cheeks, and a bow-shaped mouth with full lips
Presumably a representation of a bearded Brahman or a Buddhist figure
Mounted on a base (later)
A Thermoluminiscence Analysis from the Oxford Authentification Ltd., Oxford (Sample No. N116n9, dated 18.10.2016) and an investigation report from the Institute for Material Science and Authenticity Testing, Wiesbaden (No. 16090704, dated 18.10.2016) are consistent with the dating of this lot
Height without base: c. 34 cm

 

The head is in good condition, consistent with age.

Provenance: from an old European private collection, documented in the estate of the family since the early 20th century

Notes: The representation of this head is not fully clarified. The furrowed brows indicate age and the piercing gaze reflects powerful strenght, thus, the head may represent a bearded Brahman. With its distinct Hellenistic features, the aristocratic bearded figure also exhibits a distinct resemblance to the Greek god Dionysos. It further strongly resembles Gandharan depictions of the Bodhisattva Vajrapani, the spiritual guide of the Buddha. Typically portrayed as a wild man, his appearance is inspired by Hellenistic images of Herakles and offers a dramatic counter conception to that of the serene Buddha. Vajrapani’s powerful physique is indicative of his role as a defender of Buddhism.

Comparable Gandharan heads supposed to be depictions of Brahmans are (amongst others) in the collection of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Berlin, Sammlung Süd-, Südost- und Zentralasien (Ident.No. I 119) and the Linden-Museum, Stuttgart (SA 03775). Furthermore, a Gandharan head of a Brahman showing very similar iconographic idioms is in the collection of the Musée Guimet, Paris.

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Face of a bearded Brahman, 3.-5. century, Gandhara, Northwestern Pakistan / Afghanistan. Stucco, with traces of paintwork, 13.4 x 8 x 6.4 cm. Collection:  Museum of Asian Art | South, Southeast and Central Asia, Ident.No. I 119. © Photo:  Asian Art Museum of the National Museums in Berlin - Prussian Cultural Heritage

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Head of Buddha’s protector Vajrapani (later a bodhisattva). Stucco with traces of colouring; Gandhara region (part of today’s Pakistan and Afghanistan), around 3rd century; h 28 cm, Inv. No. SA 03775. © photo: Anatol Dreyer - Linden-Museum, Stuttgart

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Tête de bodhisattva, Monastère de Tapa-i-Kafariha, chapelle K 33, dynastie Kusana (1er-3e siècle après J.-C.). H 37,3 cm, Inv. No MG17291. Paris, musée Guimet - musée national des Arts asiatiques. Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (musée Guimet, Paris) / Thierry Ollivier

A related terracotta head of Vajrapani from the Kingdom of Nagarahara, Hadda style, 4th/5th century, was exhibited at John Eskenzai, New York, March 2009.

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Head of Vajrapani, Afghanistan, kingdom of Nagarahara, Early Hadda style, 4th/5th century, Terracotta. Height: 41.5 cm © John Eskenazi

For a further similar example, see Harold Ingholt, Gandharan Art in Pakistan, New York 1957, fig. 54.

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Lot 11. Gray Schist Figure of a Winged Atlas, Ancient region of Gandhara, 2nd-4th Century. Estimate: €24,000 - €30,000Photo Auctionata AG

Frontal-viewed sculpture of a Winged Atlas composed in a leisurely seated position firmly based on a plinth; the arms bend and his hands resting on the knees, in the back a fragmented halo
The layout of the Atlas as a muscular elderly man reflects the sculptural tradition of Gandhara, apparent in features like the distinct head with wavy hair framing the oval face with carved eyebrows, a sturdy nose, wide eyes with pronounced lid contours, high cheek bones and a prominent moustache
The expressive figure has been skillfully carved out of the stone, catching both the athletic bone structure and the carnose musculature of the Atlas with great naturalistic plasticity
The genitals of the bare Atlas are covered by a draped stole
Two wings are visible in the back of the figure
Height: 49 cm 

The figure is in good condition, consistent with age and wear. Some restorations at the right side of the head, the left arm and at a vertical fracture at the left.

Provenance: from an old European private collection, documented in the estate of the family since the middle of the 20th century

Notes: Sculptural depictions of the Winged Atlas from the ancient region of Gandhara can be found in various important museum collections. They show diverse formal layouts. In difference to the Greco-Roman tradition which knows the standing Titan holding up the heavens with his hands, Gandharan figures of the Atlas are regularly depicted in a leisurely seated position. However, due to their function as epistyle figures on architectural friezes, as is known from stupas in Taxila and Hadda in Pakistan, the sculptural layout always underlines their visual support of the superstructure.

Similar gray schist sculptures of the winged and bearded elderly Atlas originating from Jamalgarhi and Gandhara are (amongst other museums) in the collection of the British Museum (OA 1880-181; OA 1914.5-2.2), illustrated in: Wladimir Zwalf, A Catalogue of the Gandhara Sculpture in the British Museum, vol. II, London 1996, cat.no. 363 and 377.

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Gray Schist Figure of a Winged Atlas, Kushan, Gandhara, 2nd - 3rd century. Inv. No OA 1880-181 © The Trustees of the British Museum

Small clay figurines excavated at the Buddhist site Tapa Sardâr, Afghanistan, chapel 23 (2nd/3rd century) and following the Greco-Buddhist tradition of Gandhara sculptures, exhibit a very similar layout (although with raised arms), illustrated in: M. Taddei, G. Verardi, "Tapa Sardâr: second preliminary report", in: East and West 28. 1978, fig. 25 and 45.