Lot 63. Two stone figures of Guanyin, Liao-Song Dynasty; 96.5cm (37 6/8in) high; the second figure: 92cm (36 2/8in) high. (2). Estimate: £ 50,000 - 80,000 (US$ 70,435 - 112,697)Sold for £ 37,500 (€ 42,930) inc. premium© Bonhams 2001-2018

Both figures seated in dhyanasana, dressed in long flowing robes open at the chest revealing a beaded necklace suspended with multiple tassels and hanging loosely in crisp folds over the edge of a rectangular pedestal, the serene faces with downcast eyes, traces of polychrome pigments; the first figure wearing a high elaborate diadem centred with a figure of Amitabha Buddha emerging from blossoming lotus, the hands in dhyana mudra holding a bowl with offerings, 96.5cm (37 6/8in) high; the second figure also wearing a high headdress intricately carved with interlacing scrolls, the hands with hands in vitarka mudra and chest cut with a rectangular niche, traces of polychrome pigments remaining, 92cm (36 2/8in) high. (2).

Provenance: An Italian private collection

Note: The features characterising the present figures, such as the slender bodies and the tall triple-leafed diadems, one centred with a figure of Amitabha, share similarities with the painted clay statuary modelled during the Liao dynasty. See for instance, a clay figure of a bodhisattva in the Lower Huansi Temple in Datong, Shanxi Province, dated to 1038 and illustrated in Zhongguo meishu quanji: Wudai Song diaosu, Beijing, 1988, pls.138-141. Crowns constituted one of the most important status symbols to the foreign Khitan founders of the Liao dynasty. The fact that, during this time, similar crowns were worn by both the Buddhist images and the Khitan ruling elites, would seem to reflect an interchange of roles already common during the Tang dynasty. A related stone head of Guanyin, Liao dynasty, was sold at Sotheby's New York, 16 September 2015, lot 428.


A limestone head of Guanyin, China, Liao dynasty. Height 12 1/2  in., 32 cm. Sold for $47,500 at Sotheby's New York, 16 September 2015, lot 428. Photo Sotheby's.

Cf. my post: A limestone head of Guanyin, China, Liao dynasty