© Bonhams 2001-2023 

NEW YORK, NY.- During Asia Week in New York this March, Bonhams will present important single owner collections and works of art that hail from across the continent and span centuries. The sales will include J. J. Lally & Co.: Fine Chinese Works of Art and The Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection of Classical Chinese Furniture on March 20, Chinese Works of Art and Paintings on March 20 and 21, Fine Chinese Snuff Bottles from American Collections, and Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art on March 21, and Fine Japanese and Korean Works of Art on March 22.

Building upon the tremendous success of dealer collections brought to market by Bonhams’ Asian Art department, mostly recently showcased with Cohen & Cohen, we are excited to present a strong slate of notable collections during Asia Week,” commented Dessa Goddard, VP and US Head of Asian Art and Chair of Asia Week New York. “Combined with the buoyancy of the market, it is shaping up to be an excellent week of sales.”


J. J. Lally & Co.: Fine Chinese Works of Art: March 20

From premiere Chinese art gallery J.J. Lally & Co., Bonhams will present 68-lots of ancient Chinese jades, silver, bronzes, and ceramics. An active participant in the Chinese art market for more than 50 years, James J. Lally is recognized for his expert connoisseurship and considerate presentation of the finest Chinese art during the 35-year run of the J.J. Lally & Co. gallery in New York. A discerning eye for quality pieces with both aesthetic value and historical importance, Mr. Lally found cherished works for every collector at every price-point.

With impeccable selection hand-picked by Lally, representing artworks spanning 5000 years from pre-historic China through the Qing dynasty, the sale includes works from the Song dynasty such as a rare chased silver 'Literary Gathering' pictorial tray, estimated at US$30,000 – 50,000, and a white jade openwork ‘boy’ pendant, estimated at US$18,000 – 25,000.

A rare chased silver 'Literary Gathering' pictorial tray, Southern Song dynasty, 13th century

image (1)

image (2)

 Lot 39. A rare chased silver 'Literary Gathering' pictorial tray, Southern Song dynasty, 13th century; 26.5cm diam. Estimate US$30,000 - US$50,000Sold for US$88,575. © Bonhams 2001-2023

Depicting a pair of literati sitting face-to-face raising a toast to commemorate, the garden pavilion beneath a willow tree and misty clouds, the architecture enclosed by decorative railings with two jardinieres of lush lotus blossoms and lily pads leading to the entrance, a young servant holding a meiping of wine hurried towards the steps, a large planter with scholar's rock and cultivated grass in the foreground, the third scholar standing by the cliff in contemplative mood gazing at the waterfall, a school of four birds flying above, the painterly scene finely executed in 'bai miao' style, framed by the shallow octafoil bracket-lobed wall rising to a barbed rim, the underside plain and unpolished.

The Pure Joys of Life

The origin of trays with petal-barbed rim can be traced back to the Tang dynasty (618-916) and coincided with the popularity of lobed bronze mirrors. During the Song dynasty (960-1279), trays and boxes with four to twelve lobes were crafted from a range of materials such as silver, ceramics, and lacquer. A 12th-century Ding ware white porcelain dish with molded relief designs, similar in shape to the current silver dish with shallow lobed sides and foliated rim, is in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Fig. 1). This type of barbed white porcelain dish is known as copied from silver ware of the same period due to the high demand for fine silver vessels and the shortage of the material. This led to the development of ceramic-making techniques to mimic the tactility of silverware. 

Dish with Foliated Rim, 12th century. Ding ware

Fig. 1. Dish with foliated rim, Song dynasty, 12th century; Ding ware white porcelain, diam 8 1/2in (21.59cm); gift of Ruth and Bruce Dayton, 2000.209.2, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis.

Chased images of narrative scenes on silverware appeared during the Tang dynasty, a flourishing period in the growth of gold and silver ware skills. Advanced techniques such as hammering, annealing and plastic forming were introduced to China from Central Asia. The epitome is exemplified by the pair of parcel-gilt silver lid perfume stem jars (xiangbaozi, 香寶子), excavated from the Famen Monastery 法門寺 in Shaanxi Province, boasting eight elaborately chased cartouches rendering legends of sages. (Qi 2010, 173) Unlike simple decorative figures, each cartouche creates its own unique visual world by incorporating compositional elements and motifs reminiscent of those found in paintings. The Northern Song (960-1127) silver panels unearthed from Youlanting Village 遊覽亭村, Yiwu County, Zhejiang Province in 1986, featuring intricate incised narrative scenes such as Sima Xiangru 司馬相如 (179-117 BCE) inscribing calligraphy on a bridge, embody explicit pictoriality. (Yang 2004, 112-113) The beautifully chased figures create a seamlessly convincing visual effect, comparable to the delicate plain-line drawings (baimiao, 白描) of the same era. 

A silver tray in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA), which depicts Su Shi's (1037-1101) Chibi Fu 赤壁賦 (Odes to the Red Cliffs) shares similar form, incising style, and even the roughness on the rim with the present tray. (Fig. 2 Liu Yang speculates in "Cadence of a Timeless Poem: A Southern Song Silver Plate Decorated with a Chased 'Red Cliff' Scene" (Orientations, Vol. 47, No. 1, January/February 2016, pp. 28-33) that the silver tray originally had a flatten rim that have been damaged and subsequently cut off. However, it is also possible that the silver tray was designed as an insert for a wood or lacquer dish, as the thinly hammered silver alone may have been too fragile for practical use. The design and knifework of multiple motifs on the Minneapolis tray and the present lot are remarkably similar, including the continuous mushroom-shaped clouds in the sky, birds with small circles representing their chest and back fur, feather-like willow branches, a cascading waterfall, and water waves depicted with alternating straight and curved lines. Prior to entering the MIA's collection, the tray with the Red Cliffs scene was with J.J. Lally as well, who purchased both trays at the same time. This suggests that the two trays had previously been preserved together, and it is possible that they were made in the same workshop or even for the same commission. (J.J. Lally & Co. Oriental Art 2002 and 2012)


Fig. 2. Plate decorated with chased Red Cliff scene, Southern Song, 13th century; silver, diam 10.5in (26.5cm); gift of Ruth and Bruce Dayton, 2012.34, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis.

While it may be tempting to believe that the present tray illustrates another episode in Su Shi's odes and that the two trays could be considered a pair (or two individual pieces of a lost set), the scene depicted on the present tray is only loosely related to Su Shi's prose-poems. The closest connection is to the passage "......歩自雪堂,将歸於臨皋。二客從予過黄泥之坂......歸而謀諸婦。婦曰:"我有斗酒,藏之久矣,以待子不時之需," in which Su Shi departs the Snow Hall, passes the Yellow Mud Slope, returns to his residence, the Lingao Pavilion, and asks for wine from his wife. Albeit the pictorial representations of Su Shi's odes can vary and deviate from the original text, the scene rendered on the tray lacks resemblance to paintings or other decorative designs that depict the same theme.1

The scene exquisitely incised in the well of the tray depicts an "elegant gathering" on a summer's day. On such an occasion, like-minded and cultivated friends gather in nature or a garden for literary activities such as composing poetry, playing musical instruments, examining artworks and antiquities, and indulging in food and drink. The gathering fosters interaction among scholars and strengthens the identity of the literary circle through the exchange of knowledge. The earliest "elegant gathering" recorded in history is the one hosted by Wang Xizhi (303-361) at the "Orchid Pavilion" on the Double Third Festival in 353 CE. Other noteworthy historical events include the gathering of Bai Juyi 白居易 (772-846) and his eight literati friends at Mount Xiang, Luoyang, in 849, known as Xiangshan/Huichang Jiu Lao 香山/會昌九老) and the assembly of Sima Guang 司馬光 (1019-1086) and his twelve retired colleagues in Luoyang in 1082, referred to as Luoyang Qiying Hui 洛陽耆英會. Paintings, calligraphy pieces, and poems commemorate these legendary gatherings and contribute to their discourse and legacy. Eventually, the elegant gatherings of the past become models of inspiration that artists and literati from subsequent generations revere and reenact.

Even though the scene depicted on the present tray does not depict the Odes to the Red Cliff, it may still be relevant to the versatile scholar. The picture of the scholar depicted with a tall hat on the current plate is evocative of the image of Su Shi as portrayed on the Minneapolis tray and the two Southern Song (1127-1279) carved lacquer dishes rendering Su Shi's odes in Japanese collections.2 A revival of enthusiasm for Su Shi emerged during the Southern Song period as his literature resumed being published in 1173 and circulated after it was prohibited during the late Northern Song. (I 2001, 7) The impact of his legacy can be seen in numerous artistic creations. Besides the lacquer dishes in Japanese collections, Southern Song paintings depicting his odes or inspired by his poems are widespread.3 The event of literary gathering related to Su Shi that has been vigorously represented since the Southern Song is Xiyuan Yaji 西園雅集 (Elegant Gathering in the Western Garden), a semi-fictional utopian fantasy of Su Shi's life.4 Due to the scarcity of reliable textual and visual records, I refrained from making a literal connection between the scene depicted on the tray and the Elegant Gathering in the Western Garden. The scene may simply be a generalized portrayal, mediated by the imagination of the silver artisan, of a traditional social gathering of the poet and his friends, a moment when they savor the taste of life, a little dose of happiness amidst the ups and downs of officialdom.

he rendition of certain motifs in the tray is reminiscent of paintings and designs on objects from the Song dynasty. The compound motif of a waterfront pavilion featuring a lotus-shaped finial and dragon-headed gargoyles, populated by scholars and accompanied by a willow tree, is likely to be modeled after a painterly prototype such as the one in Shi Yong Tu (Ten Songs), a Northern Song painting attributed to the poet Zhang Xian (990-1078), an elderly friend of Su Shi. However, some details of the pavilion depicted on the tray are not as precise as those in Zhang Xian's painting. For example, the dragon heads should be placed slightly upwards along the sloping ridges (chuiji 垂脊) to leave sufficient space for the seated sacred beasts on the eaves. The three upturned tiles above the dragon heads might be intended as simplified depictions of the beasts. If this is the case, they should have been positioned at the end of the eaves, as demonstrated in the Palace Banquet, a Northern Song copy of an earlier composition.

In both Ten Songs and Palace Banquet, the pavilion is meticulously limned with layered brackets (dougong 枓栱), which are not present on the current tray. Instead, it is adorned with gridded bands featuring double-lozenge patterns (fangsheng wen 方勝紋) against a ground of diagonal lines. It may be perceived by some that the silverware artisan was unable to articulate the complex architectural structures. In fact, the band was part of a removable architectural attachment that gained popularity during the Southern Song period, when the capital was relocated from Bianliang 汴梁 in the North to Lin'an 臨安 in the Jiangnan region. As noted by Li Ruoshui in "Decorative Architectural Elements Represented in Song Paintings" (Journal of Architecture History, No. 3, 2021: 92-106), this type of architectural attachment, which can cover the brackets completely or partially, is known as ta 䈋 (cover), fengta 風䈋 (wind cover), guata 掛䈋 (hanging cover), or zhouhui bifengta 周回避風䈋 (all-around windshield cover). It is not mentioned in the Northern Song technical treatise on architecture, Yingzao Fashi (Building Standards), written by Li Jie 李誡 (?-1110). However, it is documented in Southern Song archives and frequently depicted in Southern Song paintings. For instance, the handscroll Autumn from the set Four Seasons by the court artist Liu Songnian (1174-1224) represents a building in the courtyard with similar sectioned and gridded bands below its eaves. The short band depicted on the present tray is the uppermost part of an all-around windshield cover. A complete cover has long gridded modular screen panels below the bands, as shown in the handscroll Winter from the same set by Liu Songnian. According to Li Ruoshui, the gridded windshield cover was more often used in upper-class residential and viewing premises.

The pattern on the gridded bands incised on the tray, on the other hand, does reflect more of the silver craftsman's artistic lexicon; similar geometric designs can be found on Southern Song silver pieces. The inclusion of surface patterning enriches the decorative appeal of a motif originally from painting. The same method was adopted by lacquer artisans at the time. Similarly, the exquisitely chased lotus bonsai, found in contemporary paintings depicting courtyards of affluent households, was inspired by silverware designs. The jardiniere is a faithful copy of lotus-shaped silver stem cups similar to those unearthed in Mianyang, Sichuan Province. The slightly flared rim and foot, the ring band and radiant lines below the rim, the layered-petal decoration and even the vein on the central axis of the petals are all replicated in the chased image. When the tray is placed beside the stem cup, one can't help but imagine the flat design on the tray transformed into miniature forms.

Upon shifting our focus to the left side of the silver tray, we are transported to a natural environment as opposed to the man-made garden. A scholar in a tall hat is portrayed viewing a waterfall. The sleek and vigorous "S-shaped" knife stroke rendering his spine effectively conveys his unyielding character. While the viewer might ponder the reason of juxtaposing a courtyard with a countryside scene in a single composition, the outpouring waterfall, towering cliffs and rippling lake may actually be artificially created landscapes within an opulent garden. In the Song dynasty, techniques for recreating waterfalls and water systems in gardens were already developed.5 "Scholar gazing at a waterfall" is another constantly represented motif in Song dynasty paintings. The two surviving Song copies of Caotang Shi Zhi Tu (Ten Views from a Thatched Hut), once attributed to the Tang dynasty artist Lu Hong (fl. ca. 7th-8th century), both include compositions of scholars seated and watching a waterfall. More recent references to the silverware artisan would be paintings by the Southern Song court artist Ma Yuan (1160-1225), whose works are characterized by depictions of solitary scholars contemplating in thought while gazing into the distant or at a waterfall against a vast expanse of empty space.

Krystal Liu 劉琨華

Notes: 1 For discussions of the different pictorial representational modes of Su Shi's odes and extant Southern Song designs of the subject, see Masaaki Itakura, "Images of the Red Cliff in Southern Song Painting and Decorative Arts" in Silver and Gold in Ancient China: M arch 16 to April 14, 2012. New York: J.J. Lally & Co. Oriental Art, 2012.

2 One is a 13th-century carved black and red lacquer dish, diam 11 5/8in (29.4cm) in the collection of Seishuji, Nagoya, Japan, illustrated in Liu, "Cadence of a Timeless Poem," 2016, fig. 4, p. 32. Another is a 13th-century carved red lacquer dish, diam 13 1/2in (34.2cm), in the collection of Kyushu National Museum, Dazaifu, H152.

3 For more, see I Lo-fen's series speech "Finding Su Dongpo in the paintings of Southern Song Dynasty" released on the National Palace Museum's Youtube channel on 31 March 2022,

4 For more about Xiyuan Yaji, see I Lo-fen, "Yizhuang Lishi de Gong'an—Xiyuan Yaji," in Chibi Manyou yu Xiyuan Yaji (Beijing: Thread-binding Books Publishing House, 2001), 49-95.

5 As discussed by Guo Daiheng in "Chapter Three: Garden 第三章:園林," in Zhongguo Gudai Jianzhu Shi Di San Juan: Song, Liao, Jin, Xixia Jianzhu (Beijing: China Architecture Publishing & Media Co. Ltd., 2009), 554-593, the Northern Song imperial garden Gen Yue 艮嶽 (The Northeastern Marchmount), built between 1117-1122 in Bianliang, featured two artificial waterfalls, one located at the Wansui Shan 萬歲山 (Ten Thousand Years Mountain) to the north and the other at the Shou Shan 壽山 (Longevity Mountain) to the south: 山陰置木櫃,絕頂開深池。車駕臨幸,則驅水工登其頂,開閘注水而為瀑布,曰紫石壁,又名瀑布屏。(Dongdu Shi Lue 東都事略, Vol. 106); 其南則壽山嵯峨,兩峯並峙,列嶂如屏,瀑布下入雁池。(Hui Chen Lu 揮塵錄, Vol. 2). In the Southern Song imperial garden Hou Yuan 後苑 (Rear Garden), an artificial cascading waterfall was constructed upon the lotus pond: 寒瀑飛空,下注大池可十畝。池中紅白菡萏萬柄,蓋園丁以瓦盎別種,分列水底 ( Wulin Jiushi 武林舊事, Vol. 3). In addition to imperial gardens, sumptuous private residences, like Gui Yin Yuan 桂隱園 (Osmanthus Retreat) owned by the Southern Song poet Zhang Zi 張鎡 (1153-ca. 1221) also had a waterfall Zhuliu Pu 珠旒瀑 (ibid., Vol. 10).

BibliographyGuo, Daiheng, ed. Zhongguo Gudai Jianzhu Shi Di San Juan: Song, Liao, Jin, Xixia Jianzhu 中國古代建築史第三卷:宋遼金西夏建築 (History of Chinese Ancient Architecture Vol. 3: Architecture from Song, Liao, Jin and West Xia Dynasties). Beijing: China Architecture Publishing & Media Co. Ltd., 2009.

I, Lo-fen. Chibi Manyou yu Xiyuan Yaji 赤壁漫遊與西園雅集 (Leisurely Cruising among the Red Cliffs and Elegant Gathering in the Western Garden). Beijing: Thread-binding Books Publishing House, 2001.

----. "Finding Su Dongpo in the paintings of Southern Song Dynasty 在南宋繪畫發現蘇東坡." Youtube, @NPMmedia, March 31, 2022.

J.J. Lally & Co. Oriental Art. Chinese Porcelain and Silver in the Song Dynasty, March 18 – April 8, 2002. New York: J.J. Lally & Co. Oriental Art, 2002.

----. Silver and Gold in Ancient China, March 16 to April 14, 2012. New York: J.J. Lally & Co. Oriental Art, 2012.

Liu, Yang. "Cadence of a Timeless Poem: A Southern Song Silver Plate Decorated with a Chased 'Red Cliff' Scene." In Orientations, Vol. 47, No. 1 (January/February 2016): 28-32.

Li, Huibing, ed. Zhongguo Meishu Quanji – Taoci Qi, Er 中國美術全集:陶瓷器2 (Compendium of Chinese Fine Arts – Ceramics, Vol. II). Hefei: Huangshan Publishing House, 2010.

Li, Jie. "Yingzao Fashi 營造法式 (Building Standards)." Siku Quanshu 四庫全書 (Wenyuan Ge edition), 1782, originally published in 1103. Erudition Database.

Li, Ruoshui. "Decorative Architectural Elements Represented in Song Paintings 繪畫資料中所見得宋代建築避風與遮陽裝修." Journal of Architecture History 建築史學刊, no. 3 (2021): 92-106.

Qi, Dongfang, ed. Zhongguo Meishu Quanji – Jinyin Qi Boli Qi, Yi 中國美術全集:金銀器玻璃器 1 (Compendium of Chinese Fine Arts – Gold, Silver and Glass, Vol. I). Hefei: Huangshan Publishing House, 2010.

Song Hua Quanji 宋畫全集 (Compendium of Song Paintings), Vol. 1, No. 4 & No. 7. Hangzhou: Zhejiang University Press, 2010.

Yang, Boda, ed. Zhongguo Meishu Fenlei Quanji – Zhongguo Jinyin Boli Falang Qi Quanji, Er 中國美術分類全集:中國金銀玻璃琺瑯器全集2 (Compendium of Classified Chinese Fine Arts – Chinese Gold, Silver, Glass and Cloissoné, Vol. II). Shijiazhuang: Hebei Fine Arts Publishing House, 2004.

Zhou, Mi ed. "Wulin Jiu Shi 武林舊事 (Old Stories of Wulin)," the first edition published before 1290. In Baoyan Tang Miji 寶顏堂秘笈, edited by Chen, Jiru. Republished by Shanghai: Wenming shuju, 1922. Erudition Database.

image (3)

image (4)

image (5)

image (6)

Lot 44. An white jade openwork ‘boy’ pendant, Song dynasty (960-1279); 4.1cm high. Estimate US$18,000 - US$25,000© Bonhams 2001-2023

Toddler with a flat peach-shaped hair bun wearing a long jacket over a pair of loose trousers, his right hand petting the small deer holding a lingzhi fungus in its mouth, the long leafy stem in his left hand going around his shoulders and ending with a large peony blossom by his head, the translucent white stone with natural russet inclusions at the center, drilled with a vertical channel for stringing.

Provenance: From the Collection of Chung Wah-pui, Hong Kong
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 8 April 2010, lot 2009.

PublishedJades from the Hei-Chi Collection, Beijing, 2006, p. 148.

Note: The iconography of boy holding a large lotus blossom was very popular in the Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties, representing the wish for many sons. The small deer included in the carving also symbolizes fertility. In ancient Buddhist myth, a doe bore five hundred beautiful sons from lotus for the King. As Buddhism evolved in China, the imagery of deer with boy and lotus appeared in large numbers in jade carvings, expressing well wishes for "lian sheng gui zi" (連[蓮]生貴子, bearing sons after sons).

It is rare that the boy in the present example is holding a large peony blossom - a flower representing happiness and prosperity. Song dynasty literati Zhou Dunyi also acknowledged in his poem On the Love for Lotus that peony has been people's favorite since the Tang dynasty.

A small Yuan dynasty white jade carving of a boy with a large lotus blossom on the back of his head, discovered from the Xilin pagoda in Songjiang district, Shanghai, is illustrated in Jade wares of the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, Qing Unearthed from Shanghai, Shanghai, 2001, p. 37, no. 21, where the author compares characteristics between Song and Yuan jade carvings: in the Song, the large flower is placed next to or on top of the head, as opposed to in the Yuan and Ming it is placed on the back of the head or positioned lower on the boy's back; the peach-shaped hair bun with finely incised lines and the stylized ears carved in "reduced ground" (減地) technique are also typical of the Song, whereas the more pronounced hair bun and wedged ears are characteristics of the Yuan and Ming.

Another Song dynasty white jade carving of a boy holding a lotus on top of his head, in the Qing Court collection at the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated on the museum's website, noted by the author that the iconography first appeared in the Tang.

Compare also the jade carving of a doe holding a lingzhi fungus in her mouth, standing on a lotus base with its fawn, in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated by Teng (ed.), Jingtian gewu: Zhongguo lidai yuqi daodu, Taipei, 2011, p. 122, no. 6-5-7, attributed by the author as Song dynasty and noting the ancient Buddhist myth of doe bearing many sons.

This white jade 'boy' pendant may have been part of the Qixi celebration on the seventh day of the seventh month on the lunar calendar, when the constellations of the cowherd and the weaving maid reunited in the sky. Recorded in the 1127 publication by Meng Yuanlao, Dongjing menghua lu (Dream of Splendor in the Eastern Capital), small figurines called Mo he le were available for purchase, mostly made of molded clay but luxury materials such as ivory, gemstone, or gold were also used. For an abstract of this Song dynasty festival together with a jade carving of the 'boy with lotus', see Watt, Chinese Jades from Han to Ch'ing, Asia Society, New York, 1980, pp. 110-111, no. 94. 

Additional highlights include:

A glazed white stoneware jar and cover, Sui dynasty

image (7)

image (8)

image (9)

image (10)

Lot 10. A glazed white stoneware jar and cover, Sui dynasty (589-618); 9 3/4in (24.7cm) high with cover, 8 5/8in (22.1cm) high of vase. Estimate US$30,000 - US$50,000Sold for US$668,175. © Bonhams 2001-2023

Rising from the flat base to gently rounded shoulders, the vase of almost oval shape with short neck and rolled lip rim, the cover slightly domed with bud finial, the thin translucent green glaze finely crackled and pooled into an olive-green tone at the neck and edges of the cover, the underside of cover and bottom of the vase neatly pared, showing a fine white stoneware body.

Note: It is extremely rare to see a white stoneware covered jar of this form. The rounded shoulders, short neck and rolled rim compare closely to the 'bell'-shaped jars of the same period. The clay body so fine to not require a white slip under the translucent glaze. As Rawson discussed in The British Museum Book of Chinese Art, London, 1992, p. 215: "The tomb of Fan Cui at Banyang, dated AD 575, contained high-fired white wares made of Kaolinitic clay, and throughout the Sui (589-618) and Tang dynasties such white wares continued to be made in that area at the Gong xian kilns and also at the Xing kilns in Hebei province... Both kiln complexes are situated in the foothills of the Taihang mountain range, where the loess is thinner and the underlying clay therefore more accessible."

High quality white wares discovered from the Northern Qi tomb of Fan Cui (A.D. 575) and the Sui dynasty tomb of Li Jingxun (A.D. 608) demonstrate continued improvement in firing techniques and exploration of vessel forms, which laid the groundwork for further development of Xing and Ding wares in the Tang and Song dynasties.

Compare, for example, the very fine white stoneware bell-shaped jar and cover excavated in 1954 from the tomb of Ji Qi at Guojiatan, Xi'an, Shaanxi province, illustrated in The Bulletin of the Chinese Ceramic Study Association of Tokiwayama Bunko Foundation, Vol. 3, Northern Qi Ceramics, Tokyo, 2010, p. 89, no. 100a, where the author cites the original publication in Wenwu, 1959, No. 8.

Compare also the Sui dynasty white jar of closely related form in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Porcelain of the Jin and Tang Dynasties, Hong Kong, 1996, p. 64, no. 58.

image (11)

image (12)

image (13)

image (14)

image (15)

Lot 43. An archaistic bronze-form jade vase and cover, Hu, Song-Ming dynasty (960-1644). Estimate US$20,000 - US$30,000© Bonhams 2001-2023

Following the archaic bronze hu prototype, finely carved on each side a large taotie mask below a row of three circular 'cloud' symbols, the vase flanked by a pair of small ram's-head handles below the rim, the gently domed cover with bud-finial decorated with a band of hooked scrolls on the sides, all supported by a high ring foot, the creamy translucent stone with natural russet inclusions smoothly polished, selected veins and foot rim skillfully stained in dark brown to imitate the appearance of antiquity.

ProvenanceCollection of K. C. Wong
Bluett & Sons Ltd., London
R.H.R. Palmer Collection, no. 166
Bonhams London, New Bond Street, 11 June 2003, lot 10
Knapton Rasti Asian Art, Works of Art, November 2007, cat. no. 16.

PublishedThe Wong Collection of Ancient Chinese Jades, Bluett & Sons Ltd, London, 1930, plate XIII, no. 445.

Note: The elegant form and finely executed design make this vase and cover a fine example of this type. As Rawson noted in her 1995 monograph Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, "In the late Song and Yuan periods copies of bronze ritual vessels started to appear... Although this change is highly significant, suggesting as it does new approaches to both bronze and jade, there is considerable difficulty in dating jades that belong to the periods before the sixteenth century." Watt also stressed in the 1980 catalog Chinese Jades from Han to Ch'ing, "For a long time the dating or identification of jades from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries has been the most difficult problem in the study of post-Han jades, again mainly due to the lack of archaeological data. ... The available evidence, both from literary sources and from the actual specimens that have been assigned Sung dates by a process of elimination rather than on the basis of positive evidence, seems to indicate that Northern Sung jade carvers carried on working with T'ang motifs but in their own style."

Many jade vessels closely related to the present example exist in museum collections around the world, but the attribution has been inconsistent - a challenge outlined above and still present today, due to the lack of datable comparisons from archaeological finds. The archaizing design elements also add to the confusion, since they were all based on archaic bronze prototypes with minor alteration. On the present jade vase and cover, one may recognize the hooked scrolls commonly seen on Song dynasty jade carvings, the ram's head finials appeared on Ming dynasty jade vases, and the staining of the stone which was a known practice since the Han dynasty.

Compare the flattened pear shape jade hu vase decorated with keyfret borders and a phoenix in cartouche, in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated on the museum's website, described as Southern Song to Yuan dynasty.

Compare also the jade hu vase of closely related form with two protruding 'ears' similar to the present example, unearthed from the Xilin pagoda in Songjiang district, Shanghai, illustrated in Jade Wares of the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, Qing Unearthed from Shanghai, Shanghai, 2001, p. 74, no. 44.

The Xilin temple in Songjiang, Shanghai, was established in the Tang dynasty and has been an active Buddhist temple through the present day. The Xilin pagoda was built during the Xianchun era (1265-1274), Southern Song dynasty, destroyed in the early Yuan due to the war and unrest, and re-built in the 20th year of Hongwu (1387) in the Ming dynasty. In 1992, the temple compound and the pagoda received funding for a major renovation, to restore the damages inflicted during the Cultural Revolution. A wealth of artifacts was discovered under the pagoda during the renovation, including many of the jade carvings cited in this catalog.

image (16)


image (17)

image (21)

Lot 31. A jade figure of recumbent beast, Bixie, Six Dynasties (220-589); 2 3/4in (7cm) length. Estimate US$30,000 – US$50,000© Bonhams 2001-2023

In crouching position balanced on powerful limbs as if ready to leap, the alert head slightly raised, the square snout with open mouth showing fangs and teeth, a pair of horns curled behind the pinned-back ears, the face deeply carved with finely incised lines to indicate fur, the ridged back ending in forked tail, the scaled legs with feathered wings, the translucent sea green stone smoothly polished, with natural veins stained in rust from burial.

PublishedChinese Works of Art, J. J. Lally & Co., New York, 1988, no. 18

ExhibitedChinese Works of Art, J. J. Lally & Co., New York, May 27-June 18, 1988, no. 18

Note: Compare the crouching jade bixie similarly decorated with knobbed spine, forked tail, and scaled and winged legs, from the collection of Dr. and Mrs. Cheng Te-k'un and illustrated by Watt in Chinese Jades from Han to Ch'ing, Asia Society, New York, 1980, p. 44, no. 13.

The Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection of Classical Chinese Furniture: March 20

Twenty-one of the finest examples of classical Chinese furniture will be presented in a dedicated sale from the collection of Mary and Cheney Cowles. The Seattle-based couple is known for gifting a large portion of their Japanese painting collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art, and the Portland Museum of Art. Mr. and Mrs. Cowles have been collecting Asian Art for over 40 years and founded the Crane Gallery in 1975. Top lots featured in this exceptional collection include three rare and important Ming dynasty huanghuali chairs. The rare and important ‘Wan Nian’ yokeback armchair (Ming dynasty, 16th/17th century), offered at US$250,000 - 400,000, is unique for its center panel, flanked by two intricate lattice work panels forming the symbol wan, a subtle homophone for 'ten thousand' and a Buddhist symbol for peace, prosperity, and harmony, above a lower panel lattice centered on the character nian. This combination, ‘may you live for ten thousand years,’ alludes to a probable imperial commission.

image (14)

image (15)

image (16)

image (9)

image (10)

image (11)

image (12)

image (13)


image (1)

image (2)

image (3)

image (4)

image (5)

image (6)

image (7)

image (8)

Lot 81. A Very Rare Huanghuali 'Wannian Taiping' Yokeback Armchair, Guanmaoyi, Ming Dynasty, 16th-17th Century. Chair: 45 3/4in (116.2cm) total high; Seat frame: 20 x 26 x 19 1/2in (51.8 x 66 x 49.5cm). Estimate: US$250,000 - US$400,000. Sold for US$1,980,375. © Bonhams 2001-2023

The square-sectioned top rail swept back and extending to up-turned ends supported by paired back rails running through the seat frame to form the back legs, and at the mid-point by a three-section curved back splat tenoned into the yoke and seat frame and composed of a plain, central well-figured panel flanked intricate lattice panels centered on a wan symbol at the top and taiping cartouche below enclosed by the beaded frame, the s-curved arm rests of square section and supported by c-shaped posts curved back into the side panels of the seat with beaded spandrels tongue and grooved into the posts, the wide framed seat drilled for a soft cane mat, and fashioned with a molded edge over plain aprons mitered and half-lapped to the front and back rails over boxed stretchers.

The Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection

Provenance: Lai Loy through Peter Lai Antiques, 10 May 1990

Note: This extraordinary chair has no published comparables in the literature to date housed in a private collection. It is closely related to the Cowles fu character yokeback chair in its stately proportions, everted arm rests and most clearly its tripartite backsplat. In the current lot, the center panel is flanked by two intricate lattice work panels forming the symbol wan, a subtle homophone for 'ten thousand' and a Buddhist symbol for peace, prosperity, and harmony, and a lower panel lattice centered on the two characters tai ping 'great peace'. This combination has a powerful message 'May there be peace for ten-thousand years'. The recipient was clearly a person of great stature.

The beaded upper rail and cloud-shaped headrest is rarely found among known examples of yokeback chairs. The windswept backrails and flared beaded arm rests are of substantial size, and the absence of intermediate posts next to the 'goose neck' front rails reinforce the singular stature of the recipient.

For a related chair of similar size and composition, but lacking the tripartite backsplat, formerly in the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture, see Sarah Handler, "Classical Chinese Furniture in the Renaissance Collection", Orientations, January 1991, p. 42, fig. 1 and front cover; and Sarah Handler, "A Yokeback Chair for Sitting Tall", JCCFS, Spring 1993, p. 18, fig. 24, front and back covers and Wang et al., Masterpieces from the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture, p. 50, no.23.

For a fine huanghuali yokeback armchair of substantial size with tubular arm rests, backrail and intermediate posts sold in our London rooms, see The H Collection, 13 May 2021, lot 37. For a fine huanghuali armchair of comparable stately proportions sold in these rooms, see Bonhams New York 9 September 2019, lot 890.

image (18)

image (33)

image (28)

image (29)

image (30)

image (31)

image (32)

image (20)

image (21)

image (22)

image (23)

image (24)

image (25)

image (26)

image (27)

Lot 98. A Rare And Exceptional Huanghuali and Nanmu 'Fu' Character Yokeback Armchair, guanmaoyi , Ming Dynasty, 16th-17th Century. Chair: 45 3/4in (116.2cm) total high; Seat frame: 19 1/2 x 24 3/4 x 19 1/4in (49.5 x 62.8 x 48.9cm). Estimate: US$350,000 - US$500,000Sold for US$882,375. © Bonhams 2001-2023

The wide crest rail tapering to swept-back rounded ends and supported by curved rails of oval section tenoned to the underside of the yoke and running through the seat to become the back legs, and flanking the c-shaped backsplat divided into three floating panel sections with a central well-figured nanmu burlwood panel set between a cut-out fu-character framed by a beaded edge and a u-shaped beaded apron, all flanked by elegantly barbed and cusped flange brackets running the length of the splat and tenoned into the seat frame, the s-shaped arm rests gently flaring to the handgrips and supported by elegant posts carved as a delicate vase holding a stalk of bamboo behind 'goose neck' braces with beaded stretchers, both tenoned in the side frame of the once soft-mat seat reinforced by a hard seat supported by paired bowed transverse stretchers, the front rails tongue-and-grooved to beaded, cusped and barbed aprons, the side stretchers tenoned higher than the back and footrest, with shaped aprons on three sides.

The Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection

ProvenanceNicholas Grindley, circular white label on the reverse, 10 May 1998

Published: Curtis Evarts, 'From Ornate to Unadorned, A Study of Yoke-back Chairs', Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society, Spring, 1993, pp. 24-33, illustrated on page 26, figure 3.

NoteThis remarkable chair is, at latest writing, reputed to be one of eleven known examples of its type, featuring the tripartite backsplat with inlaid burl panel under a fu-character with a u-shaped panel below, the bamboo and vase post supports and the inward set barbed and beaded apron. One is housed in the Minneapolis Institute of Art, illustrated in Robert D. Jacobsen and Nicholas Grindley, Classical Chinese Furniture in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, (Minneapolis, 1999), pl. 9; one in the Hung Collection, illustrated in Chinese Furniture, One Hundred Examples from the Mimi and Raymond Hung Collection, (New York, 1996), pp. 60-61, no. 10; two pairs formerly in the Richard Fabian Collection (one pair sold at Sotheby's New York on March 15, 2016, lot 31 and the other sold at China Guardian Beijing on November 17, 2019, lot 4636), illustrated in Curtis Evarts, 'From Ornate to Unadorned, A study of Yoke-back chars', The Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society,, Spring, 1993, pp. 24-33, fig. 4; one published in Curtis Evarts, A Leisurely Pursuit, Splendid Hardwood Antiquities from the Liang Yi Collection (Hong Kong, 2000), pp. 66-67, pl. 10, from the collection of Peter Fung; a pair now in a private American collection formerly in the collection of John Alex McCone, with huanghuali panel backsplats, another chair sold at Sotheby's New York on March 19, 2007, lot 305, now in a private collection. Evarts has later tied these eleven superbly crafted chairs to a total group of now twenty-four bearing all or a subsection of these decorative elements as individual commissions from a single workshop.

The Cowles chair belongs as one of the best examples among this illustrious company and is rich with symbolic meaning. The combination of the stylized fu character with its wish for good fortune and its implied blessings, together with the vase and bamboo zhubao pingan posts, a rebus for " (bamboo) virtue brings peace" and the dynamic carved spandrels flanking the backsplat culminating in flowerheads under the toprail set the chair firmly as a sublime gift to commemorate an important life achievement.

image (50)

image (49)

image (45)

image (46)

image (47)

image (48)

image (34)

image (35)

image (36)

image (37)

image (38)









Lot 88. A Rare And Exceptional Huanghuali and Huamu Bamboo Horseshoe Back Armchair, quanyi, 17th-18th Century. Chair: 38 3/4in (96.6cm) total high; Seat frame: 19 1/4 x 241/4 x 18 5/8in (48.9 x 61.6 x 47.2cm). Estimate: US$250,000 - US$350,000Sold for US$756,375. © Bonhams 2001-2023

Composed of cylindrical members exceptionally well carved to resemble sections of bamboo stalks, the five-section scarf-joined crestrail elegantly tapered to form the armrests supported by bowed side posts and ending in truncated outturned handholds, the crestrail tenoned into the curved three-sectioned backsplat centered on a finely figured huamu panel set between a quadrilobed framed medallion of a coiled dragon above and a u-shaped apron below, the back splat framed by complementary back rails run through the seat to form the back legs and flanked by smaller bamboo-form spandrels repeated under the arm rests, all enclosing two rails tenoned into the beaded and molded seat frame of mitered, mortise and tenon construction fitted for a soft mat seat and now set with a hat mat supported by two transverse bowed stretchers on the underside, the front rails set on three sides as a tripartite bamboo frame tenoned to box stretchers accented by humpback 'bamboo' fashioned aprons.

The Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection

Provenance: Robert Moore, Los Angeles, 10 May 1990.

PublishedJournal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society, Winter 1991, p. 92.

Note: This exceptional chair is one of six known to date, four in the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art (object number 46-78/1 of 4) and illustrated in Robert Ellsworth, Chinese Furniture: Hardwood Examples of the Ming and Early Ch'ing Dynasties (New York: Random House), Fig. 16, page 125 and p. 241; and the other previously in the collection of Richard Fabian, published in Sarah Handler, "Outstanding pieces in Private Rooms: Chinese Classical Furniture in New American Collections" Chinese Furniture, Selected Articles from Orientations Magazine, pp. 166-173, fig. 9. Bamboo, in plentiful supply in China, has here been replicated in one of the most rare and expensive hardwoods available, embodying the characteristics of integrity, humility and resilience as foundation for the occupant. One of the Three Friends of Winter, it represents high moral character and resilience. The superb and inventive craftsmanship of the maker is on remarkable display here in the luxuriant small bamboo-form spandrels flanking the back posts, the gracefully outturned handholds and the delicately fashioned aprons under the footrest and side stretchers. 

Other highlights include the rare zitan corner-leg table (Qing dynasty, 18th century), with comparables at the Summer Palace, Beijing, offered at US$60,000 - 90,000, an elegant huanghuali recessed-leg wine table (Ming dynasty, late 16th - early 17th century), offered at US$80,000 - 120,000, and a pair of fine huanghuali horseshoe back armchairs (16th-17th century), offered at US$60,000 - 90,000.




image (53)

image (54)

Lot 92. rare zitan corner-leg table, tiaozhuoQing dynasty, 18th century; 33 x 41 5/8in x 13 7/8in (83.8 x 105.7 x 35.2cm). Estimate: US$60,000 - US$90,000. Sold for US$668,175.  © Bonhams 2001-2023

The finely figured single-board floating panel top set into a mitered, mortise and tenon frame over three transverse stretchers hidden tenoned into the ice-plate edge, the elegant, thick beaded apron with barbed and cusped edge half lapped and tongue-and-grooved into the underside of the frame and into the slightly splayed tubular supports.

The Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection.

Provenance: Grace Wu Bruce, Hong Kong, 10 May 1990.

Published: Grace Wu Bruce, 'Classical Chinese Furniture in Tzu-t'an Wood', Arts of Asia, November – December 1991, pp. 138-148, fig 17.

Note: The design and dimensions of the present lot are very similar to a zitan tiaozhuo (long narrow corner-leg table) in the collection of the Summer Palace, which is illustrated in Wang Shixiang, Classic Chinese Furniture: Ming and Early Qing Dynasties (Chicago, 1986), pp. 149 and 284, no. 95. In addition, a zitan kangji (long, low and narrow rectangular table to be placed on a kang bed), also in the Summer Palace, illustrated in Wang Shixiang, Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture: Ming and Early Qing Dynasties Volume I (Chicago: Art Media Resources Ltd., 1990), p. 51, no. B19 (text) and in Volume II, p. 71, no. B19 (illustration), has the same design as the present lot, featuring gracefully scrolled curvilineal aprons and ice-plate edge. According to Wang Shixiang, these pieces are "made of high-quality zitan and are among 10 to 20 pieces of this type in the Summer Palace Collection. These pieces are in a Ming style...and were likely made as imitations by the Imperial Workshop during the reigns of Yongzheng or Qianlong." A comparable zitan corner-leg table, from the Marie Thereasa L. Virata (1923-2015) Collection, was sold at Christie's New York, 15 March 2017, lot 642.


image (56)

image (57)

image (58)

image (59)

image (60)

Lot 82. huanghuali recessed-leg wine table, jiuzhuo, Ming dynasty, late 16th - early 17th century; 31.3/8 x 38 1/8 x 23 1/2in (79.8 x 96.8 x 59.8cm). Estimate: US$80,000 - US$120,000Sold for US$1,980,375. © Bonhams 2001-2023

The single-board top set into a mitered, mortise and tenon frame over an 'ice-plate' edge with transverse stretchers and exposed tenons on the long rails over scalloped-edge beaded aprons and leaf-shaped spandrels double-mitered and tenoned to elegant supports carved with central incense-stick molding under beaded edges joined to a pair of transverse stretchers and terminating in upturned cloud-scroll feet..

The Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection.

ProvenanceNicholas Grindley, London, 1 March 1988.

PublishedSarah Handler, "Outstanding Pieces in Private Rooms: Chinese Classical Furniture in New American Collections," Orientations, January 1993, pp. 166-173; reprinted in Chinese Furniture: Selected Articles from Orientations 1984-1999, pp. 166-173 and 171-72, illustrated as fig. 12.

ExhibitedEducated Palates, joint exhibition of Nicholas Grindley Ltd. and Sydney L. Moss Ltd., New York, 13-17 October 1987, no. 26.

Note: This side table is a superb example of elegant proportions and exquisite craftsmanship. See a related example in the Hung Collection, Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, Nicholas Grindley and Anita Christy, CHINESE FURNITURE: One Hundred Examples from the Mimi and Raymond Hung Collection (New York, 1996), no. 47, pp. 136-7 which has everted flanges and ruyi shaped footpads, and later sold at Christie's, 28 November 2017, as lot 2950. See a discussion and illustrations of wine tables with recessed flush mitered leg construction in Wang Shixiang, Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture: Ming and Early Qing Dynasties Vol. II, p. 78, B36 and 37, and page 103, B96 and B37.

See one of a small number of tables of this form at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, illustrated by Roger Ward and Patricia Fidler in The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: A Handbook of the Collection (New York, 1993), p. 342, For a related table with a green stone inset, see Christie's London, 28 May 2019, lot 3125.


image (61)

image (62)

image (63)

Lot 91. A pair of fine huanghuali horseshoe back armchairs, quanyi, 16th-17th century. Chair: 39 3/4in (99.7cm) total high; Seat frame: 20 1/4in x 23 5/8 x 18 1/2in (51.4 x 60 x 46.3cm) (2)Estimate: US$600,000 - US$900,000Sold for US$227,175. © Bonhams 2001-2023

Each constructed with a three-part curved toprail composed of pressure-pinned overlapping scarf joints tenoned into oval-shaped backrails run through the seat to form the back supports and enclosed above the seat with paired beaded spandrels, the plain c-curved backsplat is well figured and tenoned into the back seat frame with the out-curved armrests supported by bowed posts and front rails by beaded spandrels tongue-and-grooved into the supports and tenoned into the seat frame fitted with a soft mat seat supported by paired transverse bowed stretchers set into the double-molded seat over plain beaded aprons and stepped box stretchers.

ProvenanceGrace Wu Bruce, Hong Kong, 1 March 1996.

NoteThis pair of horseshoe back armchairs exhibit a sophisticated, neat, and tidy design. A three-section crest rail is regarded as a finer construction because it requires larger pieces of wood than a five-section one. Rather than being s-curved, the backsplat and posts are gently bowed. The beaded spandrels are added in order to better support the crest rail. The unadorned and straight apron and flange brackets enhance the austere simplicity of the design. "The result is a chair whose aesthetic power derives from structural integrity rather than decorative detail." (Robert H. Ellsworth et al. Chinese Furniture: One Hundred Examples from the Mimi and Raymond Hung Collection (New York, 1996), no. 16, p. 72. A similar pair of huanghuali horseshoe back armchairs, featuring the same design, was in the collection of Richard Fabian, sold at Sotheby's New York, 15 March 2016, lot 41.

Chinese Works of Art and Paintings: March 20-21

The sale will present a strong offering of Chinese Works of Art and Paintings, highlighted by a set of four hanging scrolls by the Shanghai School master Ren Yi, titled Figures in a Landscape (1881), estimated at US$100,000 - 150,000. The work showcases the artist’s skillful ability to balance finely painted figures situated in expressive landscapes. This well-published set of paintings was exhibited at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco in 2000 and the Honolulu Museum of Art in 2007. Another impressive work from an unnamed Chinese artist features a compelling panoramic depiction of the European architecture that lined the bank of Shanghai’s Huangpu River, known as the Bund. Using the imported media of oil on canvas, the artist creatively fuses Chinese and Western aesthetics to depict a thriving and diverse commercial scene. The oil on canvas painting titled Anonymous View of the Shanghai Bund (1865-1870) is estimated at US$70,000 - 100,000.


image (1)

image (2)

image (3)

Lot 269. Ren Yi (1840-1895), Figures in a Landscape, 1881. Set of four hanging scrolls, ink and color on paper, each scroll inscribed and dated by the artist xinsi, signed Shanyin Ren Bonian, Shanyin Bonian Ren Yi, Bonian Ren Yi, Shanyin Ren Yi Bonian, and each scroll with one artist's seal reading Yi yin, outer titleslip with a collector's seal of Tsao Jung Ying (1929-2011); 58 5/8 x 15 5/8in (149 x 39.7cm) each. Estimate US$100,000 - US$150,000© Bonhams 2001-2023

Property from the The Reverend Richard Fabian Collection.

Provenance: Far East Fine Arts, San Francisco, California
Collection of Tsao Jung Ying (1929-2011)

Published: Soong, James H. and Jung Ying Tsao. Chinese Paintings by the Four Jens: Four Late Nineteenth Century Masters. San Francisco: Far East Fine Arts, 1977, no. 21a-d.
Andrews, Julia Frances, Michael Knight, and Pauline Yao. Between the Thunder and the Rain: Chinese Paintings from the Opium War Through the Cultural Revolution, 1840-1979. San Francisco: Echo Rock Ventures, in association with the Asian Art Museum Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture, 2000, pp.60-61 (two illustrated)
Little, Stephen and J. May Lee Barrett. New Songs on Ancient Tunes: 19th-20th Century Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy from the Richard Fabian Collection. Honolulu: Honolulu Museum of Art, 2007, pp.270-273.
Toda, Teisuke and Hiromitsu Ogawa comp. Comprehensive Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Paintings, Third Series, Volume 1: American and Canadian Collections. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 2013, A50-062, p.207.

Exhibited: The Four Jens, Far East Fine Arts, San Francisco, California, May 4, 1977.
Between the Thunder and the Rain, Asian Art Museum Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture, San Francisco, CA, October 25, 2000-January 14, 2001.
New Songs on Ancient Tunes, Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, HI, August 30-October 28, 2007.

NoteThis well-published and exhibited set of four panels exemplifies Ren Yi (Bonian) as a mature artist, and a celebrated master of the Shanghai School. Fluent in nearly any genre of painting, Ren Yi's figural depictions brought him the greatest fame, and they were in high demand among Shanghai's thriving merchant class. His personalized portraits were reserved for a few close friends and personal connections. His portrait of the Monk and fellow artist Xugu (1823-1896) Sharing Karma with the Buddha also from the Fabian Collection and sold in these rooms March 21, 2022 as lot 40, revealed the artist painting with verisimilitude and influenced by the newly introduced media of photography.

In this four-panel set, the figures are characters, not intended to be specific portraits. With his characteristically thin brushwork he describes their faces and attire, exaggerating their pendulous jowls and bulbous foreheads, Ren Yi recalls the approach of Chen Hongshou (1598-1652), as well as his forebears in the Shanghai School, Ren Xiong (1823-1857) and Ren Xun (1835-1893). Each of the four panels are familiar tropes in Chinese landscape painting, 'gazing at a waterfall near a mountain stream', 'returning home by boat in a storm', 'seeking a phrase under the shade of wutong', and 'resting in the shade the pines', a descriptive expression of a poetic moment. Yet in Ren Yi's rendering, the figures take center stage, sharing the spotlight with the landscape surrounding them. In each panel, nature's repeating patterns create a rhythmic tapestry to accompany the figures, and the wide variety of different brush and ink techniques seen in the four scrolls underscores Ren Yi's talent and virtuosity.

image (4)

Lot 183. Anonymous Chinese Artist, circa 1860, View of the Bund, Shanghai.Oil on canvas, Chinese Chippendale-style ebonized and gilt carved wood frame; 16 1/2 x 42 1/4in (41.9 x 107.3cm), Framed: 21 1/2 x 47 1/2in (54.6 x 120.6cm). Estimate US$70,000 - US$100,000. © Bonhams 2001-2023

NoteThis view of the Shanghai Bund was created in the mode of, and undoubtedly after, the works of Chow Qua, but by an unknown artist with a distinctive style, the signature element of which appears to be a dark strip of water in the foreground. The dark element is an anomaly, although it appears in a series of paintings of the Bund in the 1850s. The depiction of the buildings lining the Bund is nearly identical to the works of Chow Qua and imply that this artist or studio used one of Chow Qua's paintings as a model. However, the representation of ships, both Chinese and Western, is less complicated and the individual vessels are more evenly spread out. The presence of a small steamer, which looks like a tugboat, is highly unusual and has not yet been found in any other painting.

For a full description of the buildings along the Bund, see the foot note to lot 180 in this sale.

Related works: Two paintings of Shanghai with the dark foreground are in the Peabody Essex Museum, in M. V. and Dorothy Brewington, Marine Paintings and Drawing in the Peabody Museum, Salem, 1981, p. 59, no. 250; and p. 89, nos. 395 and 400; another in the Kelton Collection, sold Christie's London, November 7, 2019, lot 90, formerly with Martyn Gregory, London, 1984, Catalogue no. 38, no. 6.

Other highlights in the sale include a painting by Qi Baishi (1862-1957), offered at US$40,000 - 60,000, which was gifted to the Polish artist Gerard Desput by his teacher, the painter Huang Yongyu (born 1924), when the two were at the Central Academy of Art in Beijing during the 1950’s. In addition to this painting, several works by Huang Yongyu (b. 1924) dedicated to Gerard Desput will be offered. Lastly, a work by Gu Caishan (late-Yuan/Ming dynasty), depicts a captivating and humorous rendition of two eccentrics composing poetry on a rustic outdoor table, offered at US$10,000 - 15,000. The scroll exemplifies the figure painting style of the late Yuan to early Ming dynasty, yet the joy expressed by the two figures still resonates centuries later.

image (5)

 Lot 240. Qi Baishi (1862-1957), Cooked Crabs and Wine, 1946. Mounted for framing, ink and color on paper, inscribed by the artist and signed Baishi Laoren, with an artist's seal Qi Huang lao hu; 21 3/4 x 13 1/4in (55.5 x 34cm). Estimate US$40,000 - US$60,000 © Bonhams 2001-2023

ProvenanceA gift from Huang Yongyu (b. 1924) to Gerard Desput, circa 1959, thereafter by descent.

NoteThis composition of cooked crabs, accompanied by two bottles of wine and a cup, is intended to be a festive, celebratory image. A gift to Gerard Desput from his teacher Huang Yongyu upon his graduation from the Central Academy of Fine Art in 1959, the painting offers a congratulatory wish. Whereas Qi Baishi's painting of ink crabs is among his most frequently painted subject matter, his rendition of cooked crabs--their shells colored russet from the heat--is far less common.

T US Import Tariff
Please note that this lot is subject to an import tariff of 7.5%. The buyer will be required to pay the import tariff, which is included in the purchase price, along with sales tax, if applicable. The amount of the import tariff due is a percentage of the value declared upon entry into the United States (it is not based on the final bid price). The buyer should contact Bonhams prior to the sale to determine the amount of the import tariff.

A biography of Gerard Desput written by his daughter

My father Gerard Desput found his life destiny in distant China, many miles from his native Poland, to study in the graphics department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (Zhongyang Meishu Xueyuan) from 1955-1959. As one of a small number of foreign students in China at the time, my father was able to immerse himself in the study of traditional Chinese art. When the Hundred Flowers campaign was launched in the Spring of 1956 students were encouraged to form a deeper respect towards Chinese painting traditions. My father was captivated by the delicately brushed landscapes and wonderful ink painting. He decided to further explore traditional painting and woodcut engraving under the guidance of his Chinese professors at the Central Academy, including Huang Yongyu who began teaching there in 1953.

To this day, I recall my father's great fascination with the work of Huang Yongyu, as well as Master Qi Baishi. As a young student in Beijing, my father was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit Qi Baishi's studio and observe him masterfully creating a composition with a few powerful brushstrokes. During my father's time in Beijing, he illustrated a children's book with his woodcuts Xiaocheng Yi Jiaren that was published by the Shanghai branch of Renmin Meishu Chubanshe in 1958.

Numerous paintings exchanged between my father and Huang Yongyu over the years demonstrated the continuity of their friendship, and in the early 2000's the two would reunite in Beijing, meeting at Wan He Tang (Hall of Ten Thousand Lotuses), the artist's compound east of Beijing. Together, they shared many memories from the 1950's, and reconfirmed the amazing relationship that my father experienced as a student of the master painter. Their reunion was immortalized in photographs.

image (6)

Gu Wang (late-Yuan/Ming dynasty), Hanshan and Shide Writing Poetry. Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk, inscribed by the artist and dated yichou signed Caishan, Gu Wang, with two artist's seals; 31 x 17 3/4in (79 x 45cm). Estimate US$10,000 - US$15,000© Bonhams 2001-2023

 Note: There is no information available about Gu Wang, courtesy name Caishan. However, the format, composition, subject matter, and brush style of the painting bear a resemblance to works by Yuan and Ming dynasty figural artists such as Yan Hui, a folk artist from the late-Song to early-Yuan period, and Liu Jun, a court artist from the Ming dynasty. These artists often depicted eccentric religious figures against a simplified landscape background, and the scale and proportions of the figures in Gu Wang's painting are similar to those found in their works.

Hanshan and Shide were two Buddhist poets from the Tang dynasty who lived in seclusion at Guoqing Monastery at Tiantai Mountain. The rendition of Hanshan and Shide date back to the late-Tang period, as recorded in poems. Pictorial portraits of the two in the Song and Yuan dynasties were greatly influenced by Chan Buddhism, while in the Ming dynasty, the subject became secularized and infused with elements of Daoism.

The present lot contains some elements that reflect the Yuan-style rendition of the subject, such as the use of a root-wood table, a landscape setting, and fluctuating brushstrokes. However, the presence of gourds tied around the waist of Hanshan, which are props associated with Daoism, the scholar's objects on the table, and the sweet tone of the painting, all suggest a Ming dynasty style.

Fine Chinese Snuff Bottles from American Collections: March 21

After a successful sale of the Joan and Ted Dorf Collection of Chinese Snuff Bottle and Archer's Rings, as well as the Kim Green Collection of Chinese Snuff bottles featured in the Chinese Works of Art and Paintings sale last September in New York, Bonhams will present new offerings from these important American collections. Joan and Ted Dorf’s 69-lot collection covers a wide range of materials, including jade, porcelain, glass, hardstone, organic materials and inside-painted bottles, presenting a range of formats for discerning collectors and connoisseurs.

The second part of the Kim Green Collection of Chinese Snuff bottles presents 30 lots that were carefully collected over twenty-plus years. Kim Green was a trained geologist and geochemist, serving as director of the Office of Chief Scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Her knowledge informed her collection which she kept deliberately small and exclusive, and which she knew by heart. The collection offers a selection of elegant bottles from imperial glass of the Kangxi period to refined porcelain examples from the Republic period, illustrating the range and diversity that snuff bottles offer to the collector of these miniature treasures.


Fine Chinese Snuff bottles from American Collections. Photo: Bonhams

Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art: March 21

The star lot of Bonhams Asia Week sales is an important thangka of Buddha from Tibet (circa 1200), estimate available on request. The rare and early scroll painting depicts the founder of Buddhism enthroned under a rainbow aureole surrounded by a host of celestial attendants. The sale also features the only known complete set of portrait bronzes depicting the Five ‘Founding Fathers’ of the Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhism, estimated at US$500,000 - 700,000. Among several highlights of Nepalese sculpture in the sale is an impressively large and ornamented image of the Buddhist goddess Tara (Early Malla Period, 14th century), from the prestigious Zimmerman Family Collection, estimated at US$600,000 - 800,000.

image (7)

image (8)

image (9)

image (10)

image (11)

ot 511. A thangka of Buddha, Tibet, Late 12th-Early 13th century. Distemper on cloth; with later cloth mounts; verso with a many-lined inscription written with red ink in Tibetan script arranged into the form of a yellow-outlined stupa, comprising Sanskrit mantras and the Buddhist creed ('ye dharma hetu...'), followed by eloquent prayers in Tibetan, including verses taken from the Pratimokshasutra; Image: 36 7/8 x 30 1/2 in. (93.7 x 77.5 cm); With silks: 57 1/4 x 32 1/2 in. (145.3 x 82.5 cm). Estimate on request © Bonhams 2001-2023

PublishedWisdom Calendar of Tibetan Art, Schneelowe Verlagsberatung und Verlag, Haldenwang, May 1992.
Michael Henss, The Image of the Buddha, Stuttgart, forthcoming 2023/24

Referenced: Christian Luczanits, "Beneficial to See: Early Drigung Painting", in David Jackson, Painting Traditions of the Drigung Kagyu School, New York, 2015, p. 252.
Steve Kossak & Jane Casey, Sacred Visions: Early Paintings from Central Tibet, New York, 1998, p. 197, fig. 27 (detail).

ProvenanceBenny Rustenberg, Amsterdam, 1992
Michael Henss Collection.

Note: The Henss Buddha Thangka is one of the most important early Tibetan paintings recorded. When it was commissioned in Central Tibet during the late 12th or early 13th century, it would have served as a critical link between the Northeast Indian Pala Buddhist tradition and the Tibetan interpretation thereafter.

As described in rich detail in Jane Casey's essay (published in this lot's dedicated digital and printed catalog and on our website), this painting is "a remarkably fine and well-preserved" example of the nascent thangka tradition in Tibet somewhat preceding the strict visual codification that emerging Tibetan monastic orders quickly adopted. Here, the artist's trusted expertise, almost certainly being a master of the Pala tradition, enabled him to freely express and insert his own creative elements, such as the notably long inward-curling lotus petals touching the Buddha's knees from the sides of the central throne base, and the exquisite scrollwork embellishing the tips of both layers of petals rather than a convention of only the inner layer. An immediate transfer from the Pala tradition takes the form of the multi-colored vertical bars structuring the overall composition that represent rocky caves and mountaintops in surviving Pala stone sculpture. For example, a stele of Avalokiteshvara seated on Mount Potala, attributed to the 11th century and presently on display in the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Galleries of Buddhist Art in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (HAR 16001), and another in the Indian Museum, Kolkata (Huntington Archive ID no. 6900).

Many of the Henss Buddha Thangka's stylistic elements correlate with mural paintings in important monuments established within the formative years of the Second Diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet (late 10th-12th centuries). For example, the tiered arrangement of flanking bodhisattvas, arhats, and pratyekabuddhas echoes the surrounding attendants of Vairocana in a painted mural at Drathang monastery, which can be dated to the end of the 11th century (fig. A). As with the present painting, the Drathang mural's bodhisattvas are also presented in three-quarter profile and seated in various cross-legged postures. Their faces and regalia are similarly derived from Pala art. The pair of standing bodhisattvas immediately flanking the Henss Buddha also correspond with surviving murals at Yemar monastery, dated to the 11th century (see Eberto Lo Bue, Tibet: Templi Scomparsi, Torino, 1998, fig. 87). Close comparison can also be made to an important thangka of Amitayus, now in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (fig. B; M.84.32.5), that shares two standing bodhisattvas with long, golden tassels suspended from their belts and is dated according to inscription to circa 1170-89. LACMA also holds an early thangka depicting Ratnasambhava, attributed to a Kadampa monastery in Central Tibet, circa 1150-1225, which is seated before a large red cushion with open green scrollwork (fig. C; M.81.90.5).

Lokesh Chandra, the preeminent scholar of his time on Buddhist iconography, identified this thangka's subject as an aspect of Akshobhya Buddha, writing in the 1992 Wisdom Calendar:

"Akshobhya in this painting pertains to the yoga-tantra entitled Tattva-samgraha [an 8th-century "Compendium of Principles" by the renowned Indian scholar and philosopher Shantaraksita], which is represented graphically in 24 Vajradhatu-mandalas. The first of these 24 mandalas of the Vajradhatu system represents Akshobhya in the east as a nirmanakaya, that is in monastic robes. His body is of the yellow colour of gold, his right hands hangs down to touch the earth in the bhumisparsha mudra, while the left lies open in meditation in his lap...By touching the earth he stabilises the motion of the mind of bodhi. Earlier a similar painting at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts has been wrongly identified as Ratnasambhava, due to the two lions on the pedestal of the throne. The mount of Akshobhya in the Vajradhatu-Mahabhuta-mandala is the horse, but the two lions in this painting pertain to the lion-throne/simhasana in general and do not have the specific connotation of being the characteristic mount/vahana of the Tathagata Akshobhya."

Among the early Tibetan paintings that have ever appeared at auction, few match the quality and excellent condition of the Henss Buddha Thangka. Related examples such as the Zimmerman thangka of Shakyamuni Buddha, attributed to the 12th century, and the Neumann thangka illustrating Buddha with scenes from the Jataka series (sold at Christie's, New York, 15 September 2008, lot 5; and 19 March 2013, lot 321, respectively), as well as the Lipton portrait thangka of the third abbot of Taklung monastery, Sangye Yarjon, sold recently at Bonhams, Paris, 4 October 2022, lot 101, serve to demonstrate the market appreciation for early paintings of a similar quality and scale.

By Jane Casey, February 2023

A remarkably fine and well-preserved example among 13th-century scroll paintings from Central Tibet, this thangka displays a venerable tableau of celestial beings gathered in attendance of its large central Buddha image. This image, depicting the right hand poised in the earth-touching gesture (bhumisparsa mudra), derives from the account of the historical Shakyamuni Buddha's great awakening. Although no single authenticated account of the Buddha's life survives, several Sanskrit texts are acknowledged as generally authoritative, among them the Lalitavistara, the Buddhacharita, and the Mahavastu. These literary accounts inspired works of art in which Shakyamuni's life was codified into a series of great events.1 Among the most popularly represented was an episode just prior to Shakyamuni's enlightenment, referred to as the Maravijaya, "Victory over Mara".

Having vowed to remain in meditation until he recognized his true nature, the Buddha-to-be was visited by Mara, a demon associated with the veils and distractions of mundane existence. The Buddha remained unmoved by all the distractions, both pleasant and unpleasant, with which Mara sought to deflect him from his goal. According to some accounts, Mara's final assault consisted of an attempt to undermine the bodhisattva's sense of worthiness. By what entitlement did he seek the lofty goal of spiritual enlightenment and freedom from rebirth? Aided by spirits who reminded him of the countless compassionate efforts he had made on behalf of sentient beings throughout his many animal and human incarnations, Shakyamuni recognized that it was his destiny to be poised on the threshold of enlightenment. In response to Mara's query, he moved his right hand from his lap to touch the ground, calling the Earth herself to bear witness to his worthiness. This act of unwavering resolve caused Mara and his army of demons and temptresses to disperse, and Shakyamuni then experienced his great awakening.

Having vowed to remain in meditation until he recognized his true nature, the Buddha-to-be was visited by Mara, a demon associated with the veils and distractions of mundane existence. The Buddha remained unmoved by all the distractions, both pleasant and unpleasant, with which Mara sought to deflect him from his goal. According to some accounts, Mara's final assault consisted of an attempt to undermine the bodhisattva's sense of worthiness. By what entitlement did he seek the lofty goal of spiritual enlightenment and freedom from rebirth? Aided by spirits who reminded him of the countless compassionate efforts he had made on behalf of sentient beings throughout his many animal and human incarnations, Shakyamuni recognized that it was his destiny to be poised on the threshold of enlightenment. In response to Mara's query, he moved his right hand from his lap to touch the ground, calling the Earth herself to bear witness to his worthiness. This act of unwavering resolve caused Mara and his army of demons and temptresses to disperse, and Shakyamuni then experienced his great awakening.

The Maravijaya is often represented in other works of art as taking place at Bodhgaya in Northeastern India where the historical Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment. The double vajra below his throne references this very site, often referred to as the "diamond seat" (vajrasana) and the only place that could have supported the Buddha's awakening.2 However, as Buddhist schools debated the nature of 'Buddha-hood' and developed an increasingly complex worldview that included parallel universes and Pureland realms presided over by Shakyamuni and other Buddhas, iconic depictions of the historical Buddha were conflated with these supramundane Buddhas, alluding to their mirroring awakened natures. Consequently, the scene in this painting, transpires in a transcendent realm where the Maravijaya (or Vajrasana) Buddha is in the company of Buddhas and other highly evolved spiritual beings.

In the top register are eight teaching Buddhas who face the viewer. In a descending hierarchy, the next register presents eight Solitary Buddhas (Pratyekabuddha), those who achieved enlightenment without the assistance of a teacher in their final lifetime, and who do not teach others because they have not sufficiently cultivated the quality of compassion.3 Next are the eight Listeners (shravakas). Shravakas originally referred to contemporary followers of the Buddha who listened to his teachings; it later referred to those who follow his teachings.4 The Pratyekabuddhas and the Shravakas represented archetypes for practice in early Buddhism. They were sometimes pejoratively dismissed by later schools that championed the path of the bodhisattva, spiritual beings who dedicate their lives to assisting others achieve enlightenment while postponing their own complete liberation until all sentient beings achieve the same goal. Crowned and bejeweled bodhisattvas appear in the next four registers, making a total of sixteen, including the two standing bodhisattvas who flank the central figure. On the left in the bottom row of bodhisattvas is a seated female deity wearing a short top (Tara, the goddess of compassion).5 Below the Buddha's lion throne are historical figures, including the eastern Indian spiritual adept Saraha (c. 8th-9th century) holding an arrow;6 an Indian monk seated in meditation, the horse-headed deity Hayagriva, and two more Indian monks who turn towards each other and appear to be engaged in debate. On the other side of the throne base are two Tibetan monks (identified by the short-sleeved vest under their upper robes), each holding a lighted candle, their hands in an expression of reverence (anjali mudra) as they turn towards the central figure; and an ascetic, seated just behind them. In the bottom register are seven Medicine Buddhas (holding medicinal bowls in their laps and in their right hands, the myrobalan fruit).7 Two serpent deities (nagaraja) support the lotus which provides a seat for Shakyamuni. Six heavenly beings (apsara), carrying scarves and garlands, descend on clouds as they approach the painting's central figure.

Three published paintings are similar in composition.8 All show a central Buddha in the company of the same spiritual hierarchy noted here. Dr. Christian Luczanits, following Dr. Kimiaki Tanaka, suggests a textual source for this composition is to be found in the Manjushrimulakalpa, a Sanskrit medieval treatise the first chapter of which describes a "superior cloth painting (pata)" with composition much like that depicted in this painting.9 While the artist may have drawn some inspiration from the Manjushrimulakalpa, the central figure it describes is a teaching Buddha, not the earth-touching Maravijaya Buddha shown here. Dr. Lokesh Chandra, writing about this painting in 1992, argues it was informed by the Tattva-samgraha, the first chapter of which describes an earth-touching Buddha, "Akshobhya a nirmana-kaya, that is in monastic robes. His body is of the yellow colour of gold, his right hands hangs down to touch the earth in the bhumisparsha mudra, while the left lies open in meditation in his lap."10

The painting retains an extraordinary integrity despite its considerable age. That it does so is a testament to the skill of the artist and the skillful application of techniques employed in preparing the painting's cloth support, the binder used as its ground, and its pigments. The dominant colors are the deep gold, seen in the radiant complexion of Shakyamuni and in the bodies of many celestial beings, and the pale coral-red of their robes. A complimentary pale blue is used for the throne cushions, lotus petals, attendant rampant lions (vyala), and on occasion, for skin tones of the bodhisattvas. A fascinating aspect of the painting can be seen in a few areas where pigment is lost and the underdrawing exposed.11 As Robert Bruce-Gardner has shown, areas of lost pigment sometime reveal letters or numbers used to remind the painter of all the areas to be filled in with corresponding colors. Such color notation was "a pragmatic guide to the most efficient expenditure of [the master's] paint while it was at its prime."12 A detail of the Shravakas shows two instances where pigment loss reveals the Tibetan letter "ka", denoting the color the artist intended for their halos (fig. 1). Black is effectively used throughout the painting to suggest depth, creating the illusion of a shadow behind the figures, seen for example in the seated Buddhas and bodhisattvas surrounding the central figure.13

The painting's verso bears a lengthy inscription spaced within the outline of a Buddhist reliquary (stupa), corresponding to the figure of Shakyamuni on the obverse. The inscription observes patterns seen in 13th-century Tibetan paintings, and includes consecration mantras, the verse of dependent origination,14 and four verses from the Pratimokshasutra, which were believed to sanctify the painting and make it a worthy recipient (rten) of the divine presence. Indeed, the purpose of consecration was to invite the divine presence to inhabit the painting, and to ensure that it abides there. As Dr. Andrew Quintman has observed, "For the devotee, to stand before a consecrated image of the Buddha stand before the Buddha himself."15 Some of the inscribed verses offer advice about the proper conduct of a monk. "Like a bee flies away from a flower having sucked the nectar without damaging the flower's colour and scent, so a sage should walk about in a village."16 Other passages reflect the commissioner's aspiration that the painting be beneficial. "By this merit [i.e., the commissioning of this painting] may living beings be guided to the island of liberation from the abode of the great terrifying sea monster, from the stormy waves of the ocean of existence."17 The author (not necessarily the scribe) identifies himself as "I, Tsugyel" (bdag tshu rgyal), an otherwise unknown person who presumably commissioned this painting and expresses his desire to remain connected with his teacher, and to meet the Dharma Lord (chos rje) in the pure eastern Buddhafield (shar phyogs rdul bral zhing khams).18 Near the end of the inscription, a final prayer: "By the truth of the Buddha, the truth of the Dharma, by the truth of the Samgha, the truth of the Three Jewels, by the truth of the lamas, tutelary deities, and dakinis, may the prayers I have made be accomplished."19

The radiant presence of Shakyamuni at the center of this venerable tableau represents an iconic moment in the Buddhist tradition. As articulated in the verso inscription, the painting embodies the highest aspiration for Tibetan Buddhists, that all attain freedom from suffering, as taught by the Buddha.

1 These are a generally classed as four, eight, or twelve great events, although some narratives include additional scenes as well.
2 Tibetan pilgrim Dharamsvamin left an account of his journey to Bodhgaya in 1234, in which he states that he saw a double vajra at the reputed seat of enlightenment. George Roerich, Biography of Dharmasvamin (Patna, 1959), p. 66. See Janice Leoshko, ed. Bodhgaya: The Site of Enlightenment (Bombay, 1988), pp. 29-44. Leoshko notes that Indian legends often refer to Bodhgaya as the vajrasana, the diamond seat, the only place where all Buddhas—past, present and future—attain enlightenment.
3 Robert E. Bushwell Jr and Donald S. Lopez Jr, The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014), p. 673. The Pratyekabuddhas can be identified here by their cranial protuberance (ushnisha) which indicate their enlightened status.
The Vimalakirti Sutra, by Kumarajiva, trans. Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), p. 159; Buswell and Lopez, The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, p. 850.
5 On the right side adjacent to the lower row of bodhisattvas is the blue-complexioned Yamantaka (Conqueror of Death), draped in a tiger skin skirt, and holding a bow, arrow and noose.
6 See a brief biography of Saraha in Keith Dowman, Masters of Mahamudra (Albany NY: SUNY Press, 1985), pp. 66-72.
7 Claudine Bautze-Picron notes that Alfred Foucher observed the close association between the Buddha at Bodhgaya and the Medicine Buddha Bhaiṣajyaguru, as seen in a Nepalese manuscript illumination at Cambridge University, identified by its caption as "'Arogyahsali Bhousajya Bhattaraka vajrasanah,' referring to the miraculous cures which the image at Bodhgaya is said to have been able to accomplish." Claudine Bautze-Picron, "Shakyamuni in Eastern India," Silk Road Art and Archaeology, Kamakura: The Institute of Silk Road Studies, vol. 4 (1995/96), 355-408, p. 362.
8 David Jackson, Painting Traditions of the Drigung Kagyu School (New York: Rubin Museum of Art, 2015), figs. 11.37, 11.38, 11.39.
9 Luczanits in Jackson, Drigung Kagyu School, p. 252, note. 915.
10 Wisdom Calendar of Tibetan Art, Schneelowe Verlagsberatung und Verlag, Haldenwang, May 1992.
11 See Robert Bru'ce-Gardner, "Realizations: Reflections on Technique in Early Central Tibetan Painting" in Steven Kossak and Jane Casey Singer, Sacred Visions (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998), pp. 193-205, fig. 27.
12 Bruce-Gardner, "Realizations," p. 198.
13 This technique is found in Tibetan paintings over many centuries, e.g., the 10th century murals of Tabo and Tholing and into the 15th century murals of Gyantse. Bruce-Gardner notes the black in Tibetan paintings was typically carbon, "most likely the sooty product of burning wood or some other combustible material." Bruce-Gardner, "Realizations," p. 197.
14 Also known as the ye dharma verse, from the Pratityasamutpadahṛdaya. A complete transliteration and translation of the verso inscription has been prepared by Dr. Jorg Heimbel.
15 Andrew Quintman, "Life Writing as Literary Relic: Image, Inscription and Consecration in Tibetan Biography." Material Religion vol. 9, issue 4 (2013): 468-505, p. 474.
16 Translation by Dr. Jorg Heimbel. Dr. Heimbel notes that "the commentaries of the Pratimoksasutra explain that the occasion for a sage to enter a village is alms begging. The flower's colour and scent are compared to the sage's mind (sems) and conduct (tshul khrims) and the alms to the nectar."
17 Translation by Dr. Jorg Heimbel.
18 The prayer to remain connected with one's teacher is commonly found in c. 13th century paintings, including those connected with Taklung monastery. See Casey Singer, "Taklung Painting" in Jane Casey Singer and Philip Denwood, eds., Tibetan Art: Towards a Definition of Style (London: Laurence King in association with Alan Marcuson, 1997), p. 58; David Jackson, Mirror of the Buddha (New York: Rubin Museum of Art, 1999), pp. 121, 201-02. Buddhist Purelands, a destination for Buddhists in the afterlife, were conceived as beautiful, rarified environments where aspirants could continue their progress to enlightenment.
19 Translation by Dr. Jorg Heimbel.

image (15)


image (16)

image (17)

image (18)

image (19)

image (20)

image (21)

image (22)

image (23)

image (24)

image (25)

image (26)

image (27)

image (28)

image (29)

image (30)

image (31)

image (32)

Lot 521. set of copper alloy portraits depicting the Five ‘Founding Fathers’ of the Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhism (Jetsun Gongma Nga), Central Tibet, Tsang province, 15th-16th century. Each portrait's base sealed and with a dedicatory Tibetan inscription around the foot. Himalayan Art Resources item nos. 1413, 1414, 1415, 1416 & 1417; 7 in. (17.8 cm) high, each (5). Estimate US$500,000 - US$700,000© Bonhams 2001-2023

ProvenancePrivate New England Collection, acquired in New Delhi, 1960s
Thence by descent to the present owner.

NoteKnown in Tibetan as "Jetsun Gongma Nga", "The Five Superiors" or "Five Forefathers" of the Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhism comprise Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), Sonam Tsemo (1142-82), Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen (1147-1216), Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182-1251), and Drogon Chogyal Pagpa Lodro Gyaltsen (1235-80). Together, through their religious commentaries, these acclaimed masters established all of the order's core teachings. Under their leadership, the Sakya also achieved preeminence during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), after Khubilai Khan effectively made the fifth Superior, Chogyal Pagpa, the viceroy of Tibet. This group of inscribed portrait bronzes commemorating all five forefathers very likely represents the only complete sculptural set outside of Tibet. Finely modelled, cast, and engraved, the set originates from Tsang province in Central Tibet during a peak of artistic achievement in the 15th and 16th centuries. Of a particular stylistic subset, characterized by burnished, non-gilded, and heavily patterned surfaces rendered by crosshatching a negative silhouette around relief designs, these are among the finest known examples.

The Sakya order was established in 1073 with a humble hermitage in the Shigatse region of Central Tibet built by Khon Konchog Gyalpo (1034-1102), a descendant of the ancient Khon clan. Konchog Gyalpo's noble family had followed the Nyingma tradition up until his time and included a direct disciple of Padmasambhava, the Indian guru who first introduced Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th century. The new order quickly established a scholarly reputation through the collection and translation of texts mainly coming from India and Nepal. Their artistic patronage also drew from these sources, and during the 13th century, Sakya monastery represented the pinnacle of Tibetan art and architecture. After the collapse of the Mongol Empire in the 14th century, the Sakyas transferred their power to Gyantse, which was strategically located along the principal trade route within Tsang province. The Sakya continued to enjoy sponsorship from the early Ming emperors, though less exclusively than under the Yuan. Nevertheless, the Sakya were among the foremost contributors to Tibet's remarkable golden age of artistic, literary, and spiritual achievement in the 15th and 16th centuries, known as the Ganden Renaissance (Thurman & Rhie, Worlds of Transformation, 1999, pp. 31-2).

The vast quantity of portrait bronzes produced during this exceptional period of Tibetan art history demonstrates that there were concurrent stylistic preferences for both gilded and non-gilded bronzes in Central Tibet, the latter frequently being inlaid or heavily patterned. An overwhelming correlation between non-gilded portraits representing monastic orders based in Tsang province, such as the Sakya, Jonang, Bodong, and Drugpa Kagyu, roots this general taste in the western half of Central Tibet (cf. HAR set no. 3556). Within Tsang, several non-gilded sub-styles emerged, exhibiting different techniques and proclivities for inlay and engraving. The present set of "Five Superiors" belongs to one such sub-style characterized by abundant patterning yielded from a distinctive technique of crosshatching or stippling to create a negative ground around the desired motif. Curiously, several examples depicting the Sakya hierarch Sengge Gyaltsen (HAR set no. 4730), whose monastery was in Tsang, are in the same sub-style. One example formerly of the Nyingjei Lam Collection (HAR 68474) offers a particularly good comparison as it also includes the large lhantsa script seen on the back of its base. A portrait of Shangton Chobar, which was sold at Bonhams, New York, 14 March 2017, lot 3256, gives a further example of the sub-style epitomized by the present set of Sakya Early Patriarchs.

Their mannered quality affords each forefather an authoritative air modelled with a distinctive portrait. Hairstyles vary from long to short, curled to straight. Eyebrows are angled or round, noses are sharp or wide, and jawlines are bearded or cleanly-shaven. Hand gestures also vary, and though three display the teaching gesture (vitarka mudra.), their wrists and fingers are uniquely flexed in way that does not adhere to formulaic repetition. Their garments are also distinct from one another, cladding the first three founders in sleeved cloaks of Tibetan laymen, as is typically shown for these subjects, while the latter two wear robes of fully ordained monks. The varied selection of chased Buddhist motifs gives symbolic expression to the spiritual and worldly achievements for which each leader is best known. Each robe's lavish engraving and vertical pleats are redolent of luxurious Chinese embroideries that were imported in Tibet, reflecting the deepening connections and trade between the Sakya and the late Yuan and early Ming courts. Their delicate rendering encapsulates a period of artistic ascendancy lasting between the 15th and 16th centuries, in which Tibetan art reaches its full maturity.

onhams would like to thank Jeff Watt and Karma Gelek for their assistance in transcribing and translating the set's inscriptions. Please note that spelling errors in the inscribed Tibetan (which are common) are reproduced faithfully in the following transcriptions. Also, the English translation remains faithful to the inscribed text, which is a variation on the Lamdre Teacher Prayers developed by Chogyal Pagpa. For the standardized version, see Sa skya bka' 'bum. Volume 13. The Collected Works of Chogyal Pagpa (1235-1280). #2, lam 'bras brgyud pa'i phag mchod, pp. 71-9.

Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158)

The first of the Jetsun Gongma Nga, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, was the son of Khon Konchog Gyalpo, Sakya monastery's founder. He was educated by his father, who transmitted the Hevajra Tantras to him as a child, and by the great translator, Bari Lotsāwa (1040-1112). Sachen specialized in the field of tantric study and practice, writing many commentaries, including the first dedicated to the cryptic Vajra Verses, which are at the heart of the Lamdre tradition ('Path with the Result'), the Sakya's paramount teaching. His hands held in the teaching mudra, a reference to the first sermon of Shakyamuni, illustrate his initiative as the first of the Sakya patriarchs.

The gentle candor of Sachen Kunga Nyingpo's face, suggestive of his attuned meditative faculties, also carries his nobility as a member of the Khon clan, with his articulated features of arched eyebrows and defined moustache all set on evenly layered gilding across the face. His illustrious Buddhist ancestry is further evoked by the deeply carved cartouches of the robes. Two magical creatures associated with directionality in Tibetan culture—the celestial dragon at front and the terrestrial snow-lion at back—create an oppositional pairing alluding to both his heaven- and earth-bound status. Along his knees sit more docile creatures of the deer and hare, which are closely associated with Shakyamuni Buddha's initial teaching at Deer Park in Sarnath marking the creation of the Buddhist sangha (monastic community). His robes and cloud collar garment indicate his position as a layman, his life story telling of the Sakya master Nam Kaupa's recommendation that he take up monastic life only after meeting the lineal requirements to his family to produce heirs.

འཇམ་པའི་དབྱངས་ལ་མངོན་སུམ་དུ། ཁྱེད་ཀྱི་ཆོས་རྣམས་ཐུགས་ཆུད་པས།
ཤེས་བྱ་ཀུན་ལ་མ་རྨོངས་ཤིང་། མཁས་མཆོག་རྣམས་ཀྱི་བླ་མར་གྱུར།
ཐུགས་རྗེ་ཆེན་པོ་དང་ལྡན་པ། རྟག་ཏུ་གཞན་གྱི་དོན་མཛད་པས།
རྣལ་འབྱོར་དབང་ཕྱུག་ས་སྐྱ་པ། ཀུན་དགའ་སྙིང་པོ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ།

"Having directly perceived Manjushri,
Memorizing all Dharma by heart,
Having no delusions in knowledge,
Becoming the master of all the supreme ones.

With great compassion,
Always performing the benefit of others,
Lord of Yoga Sakyapa;
To Kunga Nyingpo, I bow."

Sonam Tsemo (1142-82)

Sonam Tsemo, the second of the Sakya Early Patriarchs, was Sachen Kunga Nyingpo's firstborn son. Deeply influenced by his father's intellect, he in turn became a revered master of Mahayana as well as Vajrayana doctrine. After only three short years as the head (Tridzin) of Sakya monastery, Sonam Tsemo passed the responsibility to his younger brother so that he could devote his time to scholarship and retreat. While he never married or had children, he remained a lay practitioner for life, indicated by the full-length sleeves of his cloak and his long curls. His robes are the only in this set not to bear cartouches. Instead, the pleated garment is lightly engraved with scrolling motifs, mostly of floral patterns interspersed with fruit, and a single flaming jewel between his shoulders. The robes' relative modesty when compared to the others in this set, as well as Sonam Tsemo's pose, holding attributes in the mode of the purification deity Vajrasattva, resonate with this master's deep commitment to study and meditative practice.

བསོད་ནམས་དཔག་མེད་ལས་འཁྲུངས་ཤིང་། མཁྱེན་པའི་ཡེ་ཤེས་རབ་རྒྱས་པས།
འགྲོ་བའི་རྩ་ལག་མཆོག་གྱུར་པས། བསོད་ནམས་རྩེ་མོ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ།

"Accomplished from limitless merit,
Greatly increasing omniscient wisdom,
Becoming the supreme kinsman of beings;
To Sonam Tsemo, I bow."

Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen (1147-1216)

Sonam Tsemo's younger brother, Drakpa Gyaltsen, is the third Sakya Superior. Like his father and elder brother, Drakpa Gyaltsen was not a monk, although he is said to have spent his entire life in meditation, study, and teaching. His full-sleeved layman's cloak is adorned with four of the Eight Auspicious Symbols (ashtamangala) derived from ancient Indic royal emblems. Flanked on either shoulder are cartouches carrying phoenixes. These mythical birds, often embroidered on imperial Chinese silk robes, suggest his noble Khon lineage as well as his transcendent consciousness; Drakpa Gyaltsen is said to have been able to converse directly with tantric deities (Dinwiddie (ed.), Portraits of the Masters, 2003, p. 207). His impact in the field of tantric theory and practice would never be surpassed in the Sakya tradition. As such (and as here), he is frequently depicted with the same attributes and pose, crossing the vajra and ghanta before his chest, as the Primordial Buddha Vajradhara, who is considered the divine progenitor of most tantric cycles (see two other portraits of the lama in Rossi & Rossi, Homage to the Holy, 2003, nos. 20 & 21).

ཆོས་རྣམ་ཀུན་གྱི་དེ་ཉིད་གཟིགས། གསང་སྔགས་རྒྱ་མཚོའི་ཕ་རོལ་སོན།
རྡོ་རྗེ་འཛིན་པ་ཀུན་གྱི་རྗེ། གྲགས་པ་རྒྱལ་མཚན་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ།

"Seeing the reality of all dharmas,
Reaching the other side of the ocean of Secret Mantra,
Lord of all Vajra Holders;
To Dragpa Gyaltsen, I bow."

Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182-1251)

The fourth Sakya Forefather was Drakpa Gyaltsen's nephew, the peerless Sakya Pandita. Sakya Pandita's legacy as a scholar and religious leader remains one of the greatest of all time. He is portrayed with the distinguished red pandita hat, detailed with feathered engravings, nodding to his training within the Indian monastic tradition under the renowned Kashmiri teacher Sakyasribhadra (1140-1225). Sakya Pandita's teachings and writings are widely revered throughout Tibetan literature. He is known to have mastered all tantric practices and his many treatises include a complete explication of the Mahayana path (Elucidating the Intention of the Sage). His fathomless knowledge and prodigious instruction are commemorated by this portrait, with the accoutrements of sword and book equating Sakya Pandita with the Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Perfected Wisdom himself. He is also attributed an urna, which represents a tuft of hair at the center of the brow which according to ancient treatises is a mark of a Great Being shared by Buddha Shakyamuni.

Sakya Pandita is also credited with the conversion of the Mongols to Buddhism. His reputation as the wisest Buddhist master of his time prompted the Mongol prince Khoden Khan to summon him to present-day Inner Mongolia in 1244. There, accompanied by his nephew Chogyal Pagpa, the last of the Five Superiors, Sakya Pandita spread Buddhism and, according to Stearns, even "convinced Godan Khan to ban some barbarous practices used to subjugate the Chinese population, such as drowning males above the age of nine from fear of rebellion" (ibid., p. 208). Sakya Pandita's unmatched sagacity among the Mongol rulers initiated the conditions for a political alliance established with his nephew between the Sakya and the Yuan dynasty for which Tibet would never be the same again.

ཀུན་དགའི་དགོས་འདོད་མ་ལུས་པ། རིན་ཆེན་རྒྱལ་མཚན་ལས་བྱུང་ཞིང་།
དཔལ་འབྱོར་བཟང་པོའི་འབྲས་རྩོལ་བས། དབང་གི་རྒྱལ་པོ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ།

"Granting all wishes and needs of all,
Arising as a precious victory banner,
Attaining abundance, wealth and prosperity;
To the King of Power, I bow."

Drogon Chogyal Pagpa Lodro Gyaltsen (1235-80)

The fifth Early Patriarch, Chogyal Pagpa, ushered in an era of tremendous prosperity and religio-political authority for the Sakya. He remained among the Mongols after his uncle Sakya Pandita's death. In 1253, he was invited to the court of the powerful Mongol prince, Khubilai Khan (1215-94), who would later become the first emperor of the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) in China. Chogyal Pagpa's understanding of Mongol values from his time at Khoden's court, his monastic training in Tibet, his order's scholarly clout, and his noble Khon ancestry gave him a unique advantage to form an alliance with the Mongol empire. Nominated as Imperial Preceptor (Dishi) of the Yuan dynasty, a position held exclusively by the Sakya thereafter, Chogyal Pagpa became the supreme head of the Buddhist clergy across the empire and effectively the de jure head of Tibet. His robes show the most celestial manifestations of cartouches compared to the others, featuring hares, lions, dragons, and several mythical birds, and his face with wavy eyebrows and pursed lips, reveals the most intent expression of all the patriarchs. His hands are arranged in the symbolic gesture of 'progressing the Dharma' (dharmachakrapavartina mudra) which is often assigned to leaders whose worldly enterprise caused Tibetan Buddhism to thrive. Indeed, Chogyal Pagpa's acts often overshadow his extensive written works. Yet, they include the daily Sakya prayers of supplication to the Early Patriarchs which have been inscribed on each respective master in this set. Having procured Khubilai Khan's sponsorship, the fifth and final forefather established a model of imperial patronage of Tibetan Buddhism that would be invoked by rulers of China for centuries to come and provide the economic foundation for Tibet's renaissance, later giving rise to his present likeness.

རྨད་བྱུང་བློ་གྲོས་ཆེན་པོ་ཅན། རྒྱལ་མཚན་རྩེར་མཆོད་ནོར་བུ་ལྟར།
འགྲོ་ལ་འདོད་དགུའི་དཔལ་རྩོལ་བས། འཕྲིན་ལས་བཟང་པོ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ།

"Endowed with excellent intelligence,
Like the jewel tip offering of a victory banner,
Bestowing wishes and fortune on beings,
To the [one] of good activities, I bow."

image (12)

image (13)

image (14)

Lot 513. A gilt copper alloy figure of Tara, Nepal, Early Malla Period, 14th century, Himalayan Art Resources item no. 1410, 13 5/8 in. (34.5 cm) high. Estimate US$600,000 - US$800,000© Bonhams 2001-2023

Provenance: The Zimmerman Family Collection, since mid-1960s

PublishedValrae Reynolds, "The Zimmerman Family Collection", in American Collectors of Asian Art, Marg Publications, 1986, no. 4.
Pratapaditya Pal, Art of the Himalayas: Treasures from Nepal and Tibet, New York, 1991, no. 14.

ExhibitedArt of the Himalayas: Treasures from Nepal and Tibet,
Newark Museum, New Jersey, 5 January – 1 March 1992;
Portland Art Museum, Oregon, 29 March – 24 May 1992;
Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona, 21 June – 16 August 1992;
The Helen Clay Frick Foundation, Pittsburgh, 13 September – 8 November 1992;
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 28 February – 25 April, 1993;
Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, 22 May – 31 July 1993;
Tampa Museum of Art, Florida, 5 September – 31 October 1993;
National Gallery of Victoria, Sydney, February – April 1994;
Melbourne Museum, Melbourne, 1994;
Australian Museum, Sydney, April – June 1994;
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, July – September 1994;
Musée Cernuschi, Paris, February – May 1996.

Note: From the renowned Zimmerman Family Collection assembled by Jack and Muriel Zimmerman, this stunning Nepalese Tara is a masterpiece of early Newari art. An early acquisition to the collection, it has been exhibited widely in the United States, Europe, and Australia. Impressive in scale and with a luxurious gilt and jeweled finish, this Tara exemplifies the Nepalese aesthetic of the youthful female goddess, at once sensuous and refined.

Of all the magnificent sculpture coming from the Indo-Himalayan region, Nepalese works of art are most revered for their aesthetic refinement. This impressively large (over 13" tall), bejeweled figure of Tara from the 14th century sits with her legs loosely crossed in the posture of royal ease, her hips swaying to the side. She extends one hand in the gesture of charity, an emblematic mudra expressing her compassion. The Nepalese artisan has sculpted the goddess with rounded breasts, a youthful body, and a benign countenance, a carryover from Indic influences which intertwined divine and sensual forms. That sensuality of form is further emphasized by the necklace, belt, and sash that fluidly curve around her body. A layer of gilding covers the glowing copper patina.

The intricate inlay of semi-precious jewels throughout her adorning jewelry further enhances the goddess's sublime beauty. The headband of diamond-shaped lapis insets along the crown underscores her soft curls, and the saturated blue complements the warmth of the gilded tones of her face. Rarely found intact in Nepalese pieces dating from any period are the strings of tiny pearls set in a crescent shape framing the central roundel of her crown. The earrings, lobes, pendants, clasps, bands, and rings each feature an arrangement of gemstones in colors of blue, green, turquoise, and maroon. Engraved floral motifs and loose tendrils decorate her lower garment, demonstrating a nimble spontaneity of line.

Devotional figures like these reached an artistic high point during the Early Malla period (13th-14th century), a time of both political and economic prosperity in Nepal. The Tara's gentle gaze, harmonious contours of the body and overlay of luxuriant surface detail are all typical of this distinctive Newari tradition that date this piece to the Early Malla period. These ritualized conventions of posture and expression are evident in other examples of the goddess, including a Tara dating to a similar period sold at Bonhams, (22 March 2022, New York, lot 305), whose taut yet fleshy figure and peaceful composure are echoed here. The figure's crown, featuring a large central roundel surmounting a crescent and flanked by two jewel-encrusted lobes, is indicative of this period. A similar crown can be seen in a figure of a Standing Maitreya formerly of the Maitri Collection (Bonhams, New York, 20 March 2018, lot 3205). The roundel earrings, wide cuff bracelets, lobed arm bands, and layered necklaces are closely related to a Syamatara of the 14th century also from the Maitri Collection (lot 3204). Her slender arching eyebrows, wide lids, rounded chin, and full lower lip are facial features shared by a Manjushri of the same period (Bonhams, New York, 22 March 2018, lot 3203), both conveying beatific expressions of quiescence.

In the Kathmandu Valley, the sixteen-year-old Buddhist goddess Tara was worshipped with immense fervor. Like her male counterpart, Avalokiteshvara, her compassionate and benevolent nature provided protection and reassurance amid the uncertainties of earthly existence. This promise extended beyond Buddhist circles into Brahmanical and regional sects, her limitless boons available to all worshipers.

These venerated images were executed with masterful metalworking techniques, a well-known and respected tradition of the Kathmandu Valley. The ability to cohesively balance corporeal forms and surface decoration demonstrates these artisans' proficiency with their material. The heavy copper content of the metal alloy provided the support for a thin layer of gilding to be laid on top, producing in this figure a luxuriant glow. Modelled to show density and mass as well as a rhythmic sway in the figure and her pleated sash, this Tara is a tribute to the metalworker's skill in mixing and pouring the molten metal during the casting process. So highly prized was this skill that Newari craftsmen were brought in to Tibet, Mongolia, and China, to share it.

Triumphs of artistic expression, as exemplified by this Tara, often directly correlate to a period of cultural growth driven by economic and political forces. The Early Malla period was the most prosperous in the history of the Kathmandu Valley. An enduring legacy for this fertile valley nestled along the Himalayas, surrounded by flourishing empires for the next several centuries, would be an aesthetic one. Each reigning empire sought to adopt the Newari aesthetic into their own visual idioms. It exemplifies a type of beauty, as seen here, of balanced counterpoints – mass and line, contour and ornament, expression and restraint – which renders images both earthly and sublime.

Fine Japanese and Korean Works of  Art: March 22

Within the sale is a special offering from a private collector of contemporary Japanese ceramics featuring some of the medium’s most sought-after names. The collection titled, “Form, Color, and Texture of East Asia,” is exemplified by a 6-foot-tall sculpture by Kyoto artist Fukami Sueharu (b. 1947). One of the best works by the artist praised for its delicate, yet towering, form titled Haruka no Kei (Distant View) II, is offered at US$70,000 - 100,000. The 25-lot collection will also include two Chinese neolithic ceramic vessels, and a large painting by Arnold Chang (b. 1954), as well as a group of six rare Chinese export paintings, the last offered at US$50,000 - 75,000.


A significant lot in the Korean section is a 7th century gilt-bronze figure of Miruk bosal (Miroku bosatsu), the future Buddha. One of the most beloved and well-known deities in the Buddhist pantheon, this rare item is offered at US$200,000 - 300,000.