Lot 398. A small gilt-bronze figure of Guanyin, Yuan-Early Ming dynasty, 14th-15th century; 6 1/8 in. (15.6 cm.) high. Estimate USD 25,000 - USD 35,000. Price realised USD 29,800. © Christie's Image Ltd 2008.
The bodhisattva shown seated in a variation of rajalilasana, with right arm resting atop the bent right knee and a pearl held in the right hand while a vase is held in the left, wearing a beaded necklace and bracelets, a shawl that is draped over the shoulders and looped around the arms and a dhoti tied below the waist with a knotted sash, the hair dressed in long plaits and bound with a diadem centered by a seated figure of Amitabha Buddha, stand.
Note: Perhaps the most popular figure of the Buddhist pantheon during the Yuan/Ming period was the bodhisattva Guanyin (Avalokitesvara). One of the common depictions of this bodhisattva is the so-called 'Water-Moon Guanyin,' or 'Avalokitesvara of the Southern Seas,' which shows the figure seated in rajalilasana, or 'Royal Ease', on a base mimicking a rocky shore.
Similar depictions of elaborate festoons of jeweled chains can be found on other gilt-bronze images of Guanyin dated to the late Yuan/early Ming period, such as the figure from the Oppenheim Collection, now in the British Museum, illustrated by W. Zwalf, ed., Buddhism: Art and Faith, London, 1985, no. 298; a figure in The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, illustrated in Hai-wa yi-zhen: Chinese Art in Overseas Collections - Buddhist Sculpture, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1990, p. 178, no. 164; and a third figure in the Museum of Eastern Art, Oxford, illustrated in T.O.C.S., 1959-1960, vol. 32, pl. 102, no. 236. All three of these figures are shown seated in rajalilasana and share many common characteristics with the present figure, such as the radiating beaded chains, narrow waist and flowing style of drapery.