21 mars 2019

A gilt-bronze figure of Cintamanicakra Avalokiteshvara, Late Tang Dynasty (618–907) - Five Dynasties (907–60)


Lot 553. A gilt-bronze figure of Cintamanicakra Avalokiteshvara, Late Tang Dynasty (618–907) - Five Dynasties (907–60). Height 6 1/4  in., 16.5 cm. Estimate 60,000 — 80,000 USD. Lot sold 2,060,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.

regally seated in rajalilasana, the head gracefully inclined, bearing a scrolled diadem centered by Amitabha with long ribbons trailing and enclosing a tall coiffure, the serene, rounded face with sweeping, arced brows meeting an aquiline nose, a cheek resting gently in the supportive right hand, the chest adorned with beaded necklaces and the swaying torso with draped and knotted sashes, the cintamani wish-granting jewel held in front of the chest and a lotus stem at the hip, a dhoti draped about the legs in luxurious folds, the bodhisattva set atop a luxuriant lotus-form base comprised of three tiers of petals each with a central circular boss enclosed by a foliate tendril border, the central standard mounted in a wood stand (2)

ProvenanceCollection of Trezevant Branam Winfrey (1912-1999), by 1968.

Acquired from the estate of the above in Kirkwood, Missouri, 1999.

Note: Perhaps the most popular and well-known Buddhist deity in China, Avalokiteshvara, or Guanyinis known by worshippers in many forms, among them Ekadashamuka, Amogopasha, Shadakshari, Water Moon Guanyin, and more rarely, Cintamanicakra. As Buddhism evolved in China, Avalokiteshvara’s varied forms were introduced through the transmission and translation of different sutras. As Chun-fang Yu mentions in 'Guanyin: The Chinese Transformation of Avalokiteshvara', in Marsha Weidner, Latter Days of the Law: Images of Chinese Buddhism 850-1850, Kansas, 1994, p.154, one of the earliest esoteric Avalokiteshvara texts was translated into Chinese in the Eastern Jin dynasty (317-420 A.D.). In the Northern Zhou dynasty (557-581 A.D.), further esoteric scriptures focusing on Avalokiteshvara were introduced, and through these texts, the tantric forms of the bodhisattva were propagated. 

Cintamanicakra is often depicted in the same attitude as the present, holding in the six arms the wish-granting jewel (cintamani) in front of the chest, the dharma wheel (chakra) in a raised palm, the stem of a lotus in another hand, a mala in another, and the sixth planted down for support. The murals of the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang, in Cave 14, show a colorfully painted six-armed Cintamanicakra, in the same pose as the present example, and bearing the same attributes, executed in the late Tang period.

Another bronze example of this deity is illustrated in Saburo Matsubara, Chinese Buddhist Sculpture: A study based on bronze and stone statues other than works from cave temples, Tokyo, 1966, pls 295a and b, attributed to the Tang dynasty. A related bronze figure in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art attributed to the 10th century, late Tang or Five Dynasties period, is illustrated in Denise Patry Leidy and Donna Strahan, Wisdom Embodied: Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Haven, 2010, pl. A35 (fig. 1), depicts a different bodhisattva of the same type. The Metropolitan Museum figure has a lotus petal base of the same distinctive design as the present example, as well as other similar related stylistic elements, such as drapery, proportions, and facial modeling. Another gilt-bronze figure of an esoteric bodhisattva, in this case depicting Vajrasattva, from the collection of James W. and Marilynn Alsdorf, illustrated in Hugo Munsterberg, Chinese Buddhist Bronzes, Tokyo and Rutledge, 1967, pl. 81, now in The Art Institute of Chicago and attributed to the late 8th or early 9th century of the Tang period, also has a lotus base strikingly similar to that of the present Cintamanicakra figure. A further example of a gilt-bronze bodhisattva holding a cintamani, attributed to the 8th century and with a similar lotus base, modeling, and proportions, was exhibited in Tang Dynasty: Chinese Gold and Silver in American Collections, Dayton Art Institute, 1984, cat. no. 73.

Bodhisattva, 10th century, late Tang (618–907) dynasty or Five Dynasties period (907–60). Gilt leaded bronze, H. 7 3/4 in. (19.7 cm); Diam. 5 in. (12.7 cm); D. 4 5/8 in. (11.7 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988, 1989.363.220. © 2000–2019 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sotheby's. Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art, New York, 21 March 2019


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