A rare gilt-bronze 'Avalokitesvara and qilin' group, Yuan-Early Ming Dynasty, 14th Century

Lot 740. A rare gilt-bronze 'Avalokitesvara and qilin' group, Yuan-Early Ming Dynasty, 14th Century; 13 1/4 in., 33.5 cm. Estimate 180,000 — 250,000 USD. Lot sold 180,000 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.

the bearded deity seated upon a horned qilin with legs crossed and hands in dhyanasana mudra, dressed in long robes with finely incised foliate scroll borders, the face with eyes half-closed in meditation below the simple diadem centered by a seated Buddha Amitabha, all atop the recumbent beast, lying with its head turned sharply back to one side while letting out a fierce roar, richly adorned with blankets and studded straps, with finely incised details to the mane and curly tail.

Provenance: Christie's London, 6th June 2000, lot 243.

ExhibitedChinese Sculpture and Works of Art, A&J Speelman Ltd., London, 2002, no. 8.

NoteThe simple band around the head, the slim elongated waist, upright torso, fan shaped pleats of the underskirt at the waist, the cloak draped over the shoulders and the style of ornamentation on both the jewelry as well as the textile borders, are all characteristics of 14th century Buddhist bronzes of this type.  The textile borders, long articulated torso and ovoid drapery folds on the folded legs can be compared to a Yuan figure of Siddhartha in the Cleveland Museum of Art, illustrated in Ulrich von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, 1981, p. 525, pl. 143E.  The overall style of these bronze bodhisattvas are related to 14th century Malla period Nepalese bronzes.  See a figure of Vajradhara illustrated ibid., p. 358, pl. 95A with elongated torso and limbs, but flaring markedly at the chest and hips.  Anige, the legendary Nepalese image maker was active in the Yuan court and his works are well documented in Chinese records, although it is difficult today to identify these with any degree of certainty.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, including Property from the Collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, 19-20 march 2007