Provenance: From an English private estate.
Condition: Extensive wear and weathering, significant losses as visible on the various images at www.zacke.at. No hidden damages. The stains to the marble are from the fact that the statue was positioned in an English private park for over hundred years (by repute).
Weight: 95 kg
Dimensions: 85 x 45 x 15 cm
Guanyin is shown with her hair bound together into a high chignon behind a tiara, her face with a serene and benevolent expression, downcast eyes, wearing elegant flowing robes with long heavenly bands at their sides. There is the Chinese folk adage “Every house has Amitabha, every family has Guanyin”. This is meant to indicate how popular Guanyin is in China up until this day. The present statue is a good example for this, as Guanyin is literally front and center, and the smaller size of the two flanking bodhisattvas creates an additional “illusion of depth”, making Guanyin appear even closer. Guanyin is first mentioned in the Lotus Sutra, the most important and influential of the Mahayana sutras, where it states that Guanyin can take whatever form necessary, male or female, to bring salvation. The Lotus Sutra started gaining popularity during the Sui dynasty (581–618) but even shortly before that, images of Guanyin were already being produced as evidenced by the present lot.
The Northern Qi dynasty (550-577) was one of the most vibrant periods in the history of Chinese art, both religious and secular, as its openness towards foreigners, their ideas, beliefs and goods immensely enriched the local cultural climate. It was within this cosmopolitan climate that Buddhist sculpture experienced perhaps its most glorious moment. While in the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534), manners of depiction were adapted from traditional South and Central Asian prototypes, in the Northern Qi they had matured and developed into distinctive native styles. However, they still emanate the seriousness of strong religious beliefs, which were rooted in the political instability of the midsixth century and had not yet moved towards the pleasant and more decorative imagery of the Tang dynasty (618-907).
The present stele is carved in the simplified style of carving in white marble found in Quyang, Hebei province, and is particularly notable for the sensitively carved face of the main figure. It features the region’s characteristic overall shallow relief treatment, with only the hands once protruding in higher relief, which is why they are now lost with no exception. The smaller bodhisattvas are carved in shallower relief and with even more restraint in detailing, creating a sense of harmony and veneration. The Palace Museum, Beijing, holds 251 pieces of similarly carved sculpture from Xiude Temple in Quyang which was excavated in 1953-54. Of these Xiude Temple figures, more than 100 are inscribed with Northern Qi reign names, but not all of them.
Auction result comparison: Compare with a single white marble Guanyin from the same period, standing on a closely related lotus base, at Christies Paris in Art d’Asie, 15 December 2010, lot 279, sold for EUR €12,500.
尺寸：85 x 45 x 15 厘米