Amitayus, known as the 'Buddha of Infinite Life,' is one of the most popular deities in the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon; his typical iconography is recognized by the seated full-lotus posture with hands in meditation supporting a kalasha bottle containing the elixir of immortality, now missing.
Ceramic Buddhist images of such unusually large size are extremely rare, and were probably specifically commissioned for ritual display in temples situated within the imperial palace precincts. It is interesting to note the sculptural depiction of the present figure, especially the detailing of the facial features, and in particular the naturalistic rendition of the eyes behind the half-closed eyelids. The careful use of paint and gilt to decorate the scarf, crown, hair and jewelery all indicate that its production would have been both costly and time consuming.
Compare the current figure to a smaller (11½ in.) enameled Amitayus seated on a porcelain lotus base, included in Exhibition of Chinese Arts, Messrs C. T. Loo & Co., New York, 1941-1942, no. 750, where it is dated to the 18th century and said to have come from the Imperial Palace. Another smaller version (6¼ in.) of these enameled Amitayus figures, also shown seated on a porcelain lotus base, from the Helene Terrien Collection, was sold Christie's, Hong Kong, 31 October 2000, lot 924.