Superb Northern Qi Dynasty White Marble Figure of a Bodhisattva
A superb white marble standing figure of a Bodhisattva, dating from the Northern Qi Dynasty period. The figure is depicted standing on a lotus pedestal, with an inscription in Chinese characters at its rectangular base. The bodhisattva is displaying arms in what were possibly the Abhaya mudra, symbolizing fearlessness and protection and the Varada mudra, symbolizing the dispensing of boons. A mudra is a ritualistic pose or gesture which holds a symbolic meaning in Buddhism. Most mudras are performed with hands and fingers, but some also involve the whole body. Wearing a dhoti, the draped bottom garment falling in loose folds, and an ornamented top, she is holding a celestial scarf between her arms. Her hair is arranged in a tall coiffure, with a diadem sitting in front of her hairstyle and long strands of hair beautifully cascading over her shoulders. A short cape covers her shoulders. Detailing to her body is stunningly rendered through fine carvings in the marble and her facial features are softly modelled, with full lips, displaying a light smile, large almond eyes and fine nose. The style of the figure is discussed in an article by Osvald Siren, Chinese Marbles of the Transitional Period, Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 1940, pp.473-96,n. 12.
Circa 550-577 ADPeriod:
Northern Qi DynastyProvenance:
The C. Roger Moss OBE collection. The late C. Roger Moss OBE was a renowned art collector who, throughout the years, thanks to his determination and enthusiasm, was able to create an outstanding collection of artworks, most prominently from China and the Orient, but also from other cultures. The piece has been exhibited in London, Oriental Arts (UK) Ltd, Chinese Buddhist Sculpture, London 18th-27th March 2001, n. 9.Condition:
Extremely fine, terminal part of arms and hands missing from statuette.
The statuette is very likely a depiction of Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva associated with compassion. In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is any person who is on the path towards Buddhahood, which is the rank or condition of an “awaken one”, a Buddha. She was first given the appellation of “Goddess of Mercy” or the Mercy Goddess by Jesuit missionaries in China, and is became associated by some with the Christian Mother Mary figure. The Chinese name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means “The One Who Perceives the Sounds of the World.” She is still regarded today as one of the most beloved Buddhist divinities. Despite its very brief existence, the Northern Qi Dynasty was able to establish its own distinguished artistic characteristics, which are shown in the slender form and delicate rendering of features, visible on this statuette.
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