Lot 10. A large gilt-lacquered bronze figure of the Goddess of the Morning Clouds, Bixia Yuanjun, Late Ming Dynasty; 81.9cm (32 1/4 in) high. Estimate HK$650,000 - 850,000Sold for HK$ 812,500 (€ 88,227). Courtesy Bonhams.

The lady immortal portrayed with a benevolent face framed by an elaborate headdress of flame-like form enclosing three protruding phoenixes, heavily cast seated with hands clasped at the front of her body holding a hu tablet, wearing a finely-layered robe adorned with a ruyi-shaped ornament around her chest, covered in gilt with traces of red and green lacquer, wood stand. 

ProvenanceSotheby's London, 15 May 2013, lot 151

Note: The imposing figure can be identified as Bixia yuanjun, also known as the Sovereign of the Clouds of Dawn or the Goddess of the Morning Clouds, by the representation of the three phoenixes in the headdress. The goddess was the daughter of the male god of Mount Tai, the easternmost of the Five Sacred Mountains in Shandong Province, where the Palace of the Clouds of Dawn, Bixia Gong, was built at the top of the mountain as her shrine during the Ming dynasty. Figures of Bixia yuanjun are a personification of the yin force and made for use on Daoist altars.

The goddess was one of the most popular Daoist deities from the Ming dynasty onward. However, relatively few bronze figures of such impressive size as the present lot would appear to be published. See a larger bronze figure of Bixia yuanjun, 15th century, in the Art Institute of Chicago, illustrated by S.Little and K.Schipper, Taoism and the Arts of China, California, 2000, p.278, no.95; and see also a smaller gilt-bronze figure of Bixia yuanjun, Ming dynasty, in the British Museum (museum no.1908,0420.6).


Sovereign of the Clouds of Dawn (Bixia Yuanjun)Ming dynasty (1368–1644), late 14th/15th century. Bronze with traces of pigment, 98 x 57 x 32.5 cm (38 5/8 x 22 1/2 x 12 3/4 in.). Gift of Mrs. Samuel G. Rautbord, 1967.333 © 2018 The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60603-6404 


Gilt bronze figure of the Sovereign of the Coulds of Dawn (Bixia yuanjun), Ming dynasty (1368-1644), 1908,0420.6 © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Bonhams. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART, 29 May 2018, Hong Kong, Admiralty