Lot 377. A rare grey limestone head of a monk, Sengqie, Song dynasty (960-1279); 7 5/8 in. (19.3 cm.) high. Estimate $7,000 - USD 9,000. Price Realized $16,250. © Christie's Image Ltd 2008
The long, expressive face well carved with pronounced cheek bones, long straight nose, and downcast eyes set below thick brows, the top of the head draped with a cowl, traces of red and black pigments, wood stand.
Provenance: Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 5 May 1979, lot 249.
Ralph M. Chait Galleries, New York
Note: The cult of Sengqie, the Great Sage of Sizhou, flourished from the late Tang to the early Northern Song period, after he was deified as an incarnation of Guanyin following his death in 710 AD. The cult expanded primarily along the Yangzi and Huai rivers and along the coastline as he became seen as a protector against raging waters. He is characteristically depicted as a cowled or hooded monk seated before a three-legged meditational armrest, occasionally in the company of two subsidiary deified monks, Baozhi and Fanghui. For a depiction of him in sandstone in the famous Dazu grottoes, Chongqing, Sichuan province, see A. Howard, et.al., Chinese Sculpture, New Haven, 2006, pp. 397-9 and fig. 4.39. Not only are extant examples of Sengqie rare, the outstanding quality of carving on the present fragmentary head compares best with the complete limestone figure in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, illustrated by Sun Di, ed., Comprehensive Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Buddhist Sculptures in Overseas Collections, vol. 6, Beijing, 2005, pp. 1250-1.
Christie's. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART. 17 September 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza