2013_NYR_02726_1509_000(a_grey_marble_torso_of_a_bodhisattva_northern_qi_sui_dynasty_circa_ad) (2)

Lot 1509. A grey marble torso of a Bodhisattva, Northern Qi-Sui Dynasty, circa AD 570-590; 35 in. (88.9 cm) high. Estimate USD 50,000 - USD 70,000Price realised USD 62,500. © Christie's Images Ltd 2013

The figure is shown standing on a lotus-pod-shaped plinth, and dressed in long monastic robes falling in neat symmetrical folds to the bare feet. The shoulders are draped with a simple shawl ending in long trailing ends tied in a knot across the chest. Long chains of clustered beads hang from the neck and are threaded through a large medallion edged with 'pearls' at the waist in front and with the same arrangement of beaded chains emerging from beneath the shawl in back where they hang over the simple lines of the pleated robes and dhoti above a 'flaming pearl' motif carved in relief at the back of the base. The arms are draped with long sashes carved at the sides that fall to the base. The partial left hand holds a lotus-petal shaped ritual object. The fine-grained stone of bluish-gray tone is streaked in creamy white and has widely scattered darker gray and black fine veining, showing traces of reddish earth on the smoothly finished, matte surface.

ProvenanceAcquired in Hong Kong, January 1997.
Dr. and Mrs. Marvin L. Gordon Collection, San Francisco, 1997.
Private Collection, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2009. 

Literature: J. J. Lally & Co., Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art: the Collection of Dr. and Mrs. Marvin L. Gordon, New York, 2009, no. 66.

Note: The rigid, frontal pose of this figure, and the arrangement and depiction of the robes and jewelry, are typical of Northern Qi and Sui dynasty stone sculptures of bodhisattvas. A very similar torso of a bodhisattva, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is illustrated by D. P. Leidy and D. Strahan in Wisdom Embodied, Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2010, p. 172, fig. A13, where it is dated Northern Qi dynasty, mid- to late 6th century. Other comparable Sui dynasty figures of bodhisattvas, also shown wearing a shawl and a diaphanous dhoti folded over at the waist, and carved in a manner similar to that of the present figure, include the torso illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, Ancient Chinese Sculpture, Eskenazi, London, 14 June - 22 July 1978, pp. 52-53, no. 15, and the figure illustrated by O. Sirén in Chinese Sculptures in the von der Heydt Collection, Zürich, 1959, pp. 92-93, no. 26.

Christie'sFine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, New York, 19 - 20 September 2013