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A very rare gilt-bronze figure of a luohan
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A VERY RARE GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF A LUOHAN\n\nSONG-YUAN DYNASTY (960-1368)\n\nThe graceful, long-waisted figure is shown seated in padmasana with hands extended in varadamudra, his robes is worn around his torso and draped over one shoulder leaving the other exposed and falling in graceful folds below the legs as if draped over an edge, the neck creased and the slender face well cast with crisp features set in a contemplative expression.\n\n34 in. (86.4 cm.) high
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notes

THE PROPERTY OF A LADY

Luohan, also known as Arhats or 'Destroyers of the Passions', vary in numbers between 16 and 108 and were depicted in Chinese art from the Tang dynasty onwards. As Buddha’s apostles, Luohan were first mentioned as sixteen Arhats in the Mahayanavataraka which was translated into Chinese in AD 437. A full transcript of these sixteen names was given in AD 653 by the pilgrim monk Xuan Zang with the additional two that were probably adopted by the end of the 10th century, these being the Arhats who tamed the Dragon and the Tiger representing Eastern and Western directions respectively.

There are very few surviving examples of gilt-bronze figures of Luohan dating to the Song and Yuan dynasties, making the present figure exceptionally rare and important. Only a few closely related examples have been published. The superb casting and style of this figure is very similar to that of two other gilt-bronze figures of Luohan dated to the Song dynasty and sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 1 October 1991, lot 1668. One of these figures is that of an older man, while the other is a younger man (fig.1). It is the latter figure which is the most similar to the present Luohan. Another related figure is illustrated by Hajek, Chinesische Kunst in Tschechoslowakischen Museen, Prague, 1954, no. 115. The author, p. 43, notes the similarity between this and ceramic and wood sculptures of the period. All of these figures share a similarity in the fluid execution of the drapery and the naturalism of the facial features (almost portrait-like). It is possible that all of these figures may have come from the same set.

These sculptures are found in other media, for example, Wenwu 1994:3, pp. 76-82 records the discovery at the Lingyan Temple, Changqing Xian, Shandong province, of some fourty clay figures of Luohan, most of which were dated to the Song period, but of smaller size. In their animated gestures, quality of portraiture and the treatment of the fluid folds of drapery at the front they bear resemblance to the present figure.

THE PROPERTY OF A LADY

origin

SONG-YUAN DYNASTY (960-1368)

lot_number

3233

provenance

Sold at Christie’s New York, 21 March 2000, lot 159


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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