A pair of limestone sculptures of Bodhisattva
China, Tang dynasty, early 8th century
A magnificent pair of limestone sculptures, each representing a Bodhisattva. One sculpture is dressed in a tightly fitting, pleated and swagged garment that covers the legs, with the exception of the feet. The Bodhisattva has a long scarf draped over the naked torso and the end of the scarf is clinched in the pendant right hand. The figure is standing on a double lotus throne. The hair is neatly arranged in a high chignon, strands of which fall on the shoulders. The facial expression is serene, with high arched eyebrows, heavily lidded, half-closed eyes, an aquiline nose and a small, pursed mouth. An elaborate necklace adorns the upper body. The other sculpture is similarly attired, but in addition this figure wears an elaborate, knotted necklace and holds an ambrosia bottle in the left hand. Both sculptures are carved from grey limestone that has extensive traces of red pigment.
In Chinese Buddhism a bodhisattva is a person who is on the path towards bodhi (‘awakening’) or Buddhahood. The figure carrying the ambrosia bottle is generally identified as the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. The curving form of the deities’ torsos and the stylistic element of the swayed-hip posture both became especially popular during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong (712-756), when sculptures in general became more dynamic in their design. This magnificent pair of sculptures is very similar to a pair from the collection of Grenville L. Winthrop in New York, and later in the collection of James W. and Marilynn Alsdorf in Chicago. They were exhibited in 1954 in Houston, Texas. In 1965 one of the sculptures was exhibited at the O’Shaugenessy Art Gallery at Notre Dame in Indiana.
Private collection, Far East
J.J. Lally & Co, New York, 2017
Buddhist Sculpture from Ancient China, J.J. Lally & Co, New York, 2017, cat. No. 15
来源：远东私人收藏；美国纽约 J.J. Lally 旧藏