Lot 130. Jadeite 'Laughing Buddha' and diamond pendant. Estimate HK$1,400,000 - 2,200,000 (US$180,000 - 282,000). © Tiancheng International

The jadeite of very fine translucency and imperial green colour, carved as a 'laughing Buddha', decorated with pear-, marquise-shaped and brilliant-cut diamonds, mounted in 18 karat white gold.

Laughing Buddha measuring approximately 34.28 x 41.32 x 5.50mm.

Accompanied by Hong Kong Jade & Stone Laboratory report numbered KJ96093, dated 26 July 2017, stating that the jadeite is natural, known in the trade as 'A Jade'.

Maitreya is regarded as a “Future Buddha” of this world in Buddhist eschatology. He is the successor of Dipankara, Buddha of the Past, and Gautama, Buddha of the Present. It is prophesized that Maitreya will be born in this world to lead the Buddhist realm and deliver all mortals from sufferings.

Maitreya Buddha has been portrayed in three ways in Buddhist tradition of Mahayana practised in China – the image of a sitting, cross-legged Bodhisattva in the era of the Sixteen Kingdoms and that of a Buddha in meditation posture or seated leaning pose in the Northern Wei Dynasty. Looking dignified, the Buddha’s slender, tall figure is featured in both the depictions. However, it is the third image of Maitreya that has proven the most popular – a fat monk with a large belly and smiling face.

Legend has it that this image was modeled after Monk Qici, also known as Budai Monk, of the Five Dynasties period. Always carrying a cloth sack with him, he travelled everywhere to enlighten anyone he crossed path with. Before he passed away, he uttered a Buddhist hymn:“Maitreya, the true Maitreya has billions of incarnations. Often he is shown to people but they do not recognize him.” Due to this, he is said to have reincarnated from Maitreya. 

Since then, the laughing, potbellied Maitreya Buddha has become one of the favourite motifs in traditional Chinese jade carvings. His prominent belly is a metaphor for extraordinariness within plainness; an expression of goodness amid ugliness; his hearty smile reflects dignity amid humour and compassion shown amid ridicule. 

This season, Tiancheng International will offer a finely translucent emerald green jadeite ‘Laughing Buddha’ pendant (Lot 130). Meticulously crafted, the ‘Laughing Buddha’ pendant is the perfect embodiment of the blessings of Maitreya, exuding an unworldly charm filled with happiness and peace.

Tiancheng International. Jewellery and Jadeite, 2 Oct · 1 pm