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Lot 78. A Grey Limestone head of a bodhisattva, Possibly Late Northern Wei Dynasty, 6th century; 9 1/4in (23.5cm) high. Estimate US$ 60,000 - 80,000 (50,000 - 66,000). © Bonhams 2001-2021

The fragment wearing a faceted crown fronted with an image of a seated Amitabha and stylized leaf sprays at the corners, his striated hair parted at the center and framing the rectangular face with incised urna on the forehead above arching brows, deep-set eyes and a cleft chin below the full lips.

ProvenanceParke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York sale, 22 October 1971
Property of the Estate of Cornelius Vanderstarr, New York.

Exhibited and PublishedNew York, C. T. Loo & Co., An Exhibition of Stone Sculpture, 1940, pl. VIII, no. 15.

NoteThe figure of Amitabha seated at the front of the crown usually identifies the image as the bodhisattva Guanyin. However, see the grey stone head dated to the Northern Wei dynasty, identified as from the Longmen caves and possibly a figure of Maitreya was sold in Christie's, New York, Fine Chinese Art from the Arthur M. Sackler Collection, 17 March 2009, lot 348. Of similar size (9 5/8in. [24.5cm high]) to the Alsdorf head, the crown on its head also displays simplified leaf sprays of fleur-de-lys form that separate the seated Buddha at the front from the rosette preserved on the side. The Sackler head also displays more delicate features, flat ears and smoothly parted hair in contrast to the articulated ears and striated hair visible on the Alsdorf head.

2009_NYR_02268_0348_000(051240)

A dark grey stone head of a bodhisattva, Northern Wei Dynasty (386-584), Longmen Caves; 9 5/8 in. (24.5 cm.) high, wood standEstimate USD 15,000 - USD 20,000Price realised USD 92,500 at Christie's, New York, 17 March 2009, lot 348© Christie's Image Ltd 2009

Cf. my post: A dark grey stone head of a bodhisattva, Northern Wei Dynasty (386-584), Longmen Caves

See also a rare limestone 'Longmen' relief fragmentary head of Guanyin, dated to the Northern Wei dynasty, sold at Sotheby's, Hong Kong, Chinese Art through the Eye of Sakamoto Goro, 8 October 2013, lot 111. Although of much smaller size (4 3/8in. [11.3cm. high], the crown on the head displays the simplified leaf sprays of fleur-de-lys form seen on the Sackler head.

T165HK0490_72X9C_Ar3

A rare limestone 'Longmen' relief fragmentary head of Avalokiteshvara, Northern Wei Dynasty, 6th century; 11.3 cm., 4 3/8  in. Estimate 50,000 - 70,000 HKD. Lot sold 300,000 HKD sold at Sotheby's, Hong Kong,Chinese Art through the Eye of Sakamoto Goro, 8 October 2013, lot 111.

Cf.  my post: A rare limestone 'Longmen' relief fragmentary head of Avalokiteshvara, Northern Wei Dynasty, 6th century

See also the head of larger size (18 3/4in. [47.6cm] high) in the collection of the Freer Gallery of Art (F1913.71, Gift of Charles Lang Freer: https://asia.si.edu/object/F1913.71/. Identified as Guanyin, from the Longmen Grottoes, and dated 493-534, its towering crown also displays a seated Amitabha between elaborate leaf scrolls that recall the Alsdorf head. Also like the Alsdorf head, the ears on the Freer figure appear to be articulated; but its slender face and features, as well as the smoothly finished hair more strongly resemble the Sackler Collection head sold by Christies.

Bonhams. Chinese Works of Art and Paintings, 15 Mar 2021, 10:00 EDT, New York