Lot 1128. A rare pair of monumental painted stucco figures of bodhisattvas, Yuan-Ming dynasty, 13th-14th century; 85 in. (2.16 m.) high. Estimate USD 400,000 - USD 600,000. Price realised USD 468,500. © Christie's Images Ltd 2018.
Each figure is a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, shown standing on a lotus base with head framed within a halo and hands held before the body in amida mudra. One figure wears a green scarf draped over the shoulders and then looped over the forearms before trailing down the sides of a long, red skirt with striped borders that is belted at the waist and tied around the hips with a scarf decorated with flower sprigs. The other also wears a long, green celestial scarf as well as a red robe draped over the left shoulder and worn over an ochre skirt with black and white striped borders, and each wears a pleated green underskirt just visible above the feet, as well as bracelets and a foliate necklace that spans the chest. The delicate facial features are set in a serene expression enhanced by the smooth, white pigment of the skin and set off by the blue pigment of the hair which is worn in a topknot hidden behind the gilded foliate crown centered with a figure of Amitabha Buddha, wood stands.
Provenance: Christie's New York, 18 September 1997, lot 301.
Property from the Collection of Arnold Scaasi and Parker Ladd.
Note: Similar types of figures can be seen in a number of Buddhist temples of the Ming dynasty in Shanxi province. In the Guanyin Hall and the Thousand Buddha Hall of the Shuanglin Temple in Pingyaoxian, south of Taiyuan, large numbers of clay figures of heavenly bodhisattvas adorn the walls. They are dressed in robes whose details are strongly modeled to emphasize the thickness of the drapery folds and the often unusual swirling and fluttering patterns of hems and borders of the layered gowns, sleeves, shawls, etc. Like the present pair they are painted predominantly in red and green pigments with added relief decoration. The facial features are delicate and feminine, the hair arranged in two curls at the front, above the large urna. Similar types of figures can also be seen in the Zhenguo and the Shuanglin Temples, also in Pingyaoxian: see The Research Institute of the Buddhism Culture of China, Buddhist Sculpture of Shanxi Province, Hong Kong, 1991, pls. 11, 15, 18 and 172-180.