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Home > Auctions > 1st September 2020 > Chinese Inscribed Buddhist Votive Stele with Dragons

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LOT 0250

GBP (£) 8,000 - 10,000
EUR (€) 8,860 - 11,070
USD ($) 10,450 - 13,060

Bid History: 3   |   Current bid: £6,500

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Bid History: 3   |   Current bid: £6,500

Chinese Inscribed Buddhist Votive Stele with Dragons

Northern Qi Dynasty, 5th-6th century AD

An imposing carved fossiliferous limestone stele surmounted by four entwined grimacing dragons, their bodies curled around a canopy with standing Buddha in the act of blessing; a central large figure of Buddha in shallow canopied niche below, seated on a lotus throne, his right hand raised to his chin and left hand resting on his knee with palm facing down; surrounded by ten bodhisattvas or disciples, each seated in a niche, four at the front of the stele and three to each narrow side, each with individual facial features, dressed in long robes with hands tucked inside the sleeves; two further bodhisattvas flanking the Buddha's head with their hands in vajrapradama mudra and in a greeting pose; below the Buddha two guardian lions flanking a censer; the reverse with a shallow niche with two monks; the lower section dived in two parts: the top with engraved image of two entwined dragons, each with a mythical bird on its back, the lower half with devotional inscription 'Emperor Wenxuan of Northern Qi, 559 years...This stone is made in the hope that all from emperor to commoner will be one with Buddha'; the stele resting on a rectangular base with a seated bodhisattva to each short edge, the front with low relief scene of two monks before a large censer, a regardant guardian lion to each side. 190.6 kg, 1.1m (43 1/4"). Very fine condition.

Acquired for the ‘Buckingham Collection’ by the late Nik Douglas (1944-2012), renowned author, curator and Asian art expert; the collection formed from the early 1960s to early 1970s; much of the collection was displayed at the major exhibition ‘The Buddha Image: Out of Uddiyana’, Tibet House, 22 West 15th Street, New York, 16 September-20 October 2010, extended to 16 November and again to 7 January 2011; where the collection of one hundred pieces was publicly valued at US$ 15M; this piece was scheduled to be included in an exhibition entitled ‘On the Silk Route; Birth of The Buddha’, to be held in London from November 2012, but sadly his death prevented this; accompanied by copies of several press releases and articles for the exhibition, including Artnet News, This Week in New York, Huffpost, Buddhist Art News, and a scholarly note TL 5284 by Dr Ronald Bonewitz.
See Musée Cernuschi, Paris, France, for a votive stele with six dragons; see also Sotheby's New York, 18 March 2014, Lot 169, for a less elaborate example.