• Japanese and Korean Art  auction at Christies

    Sale 2193

    Japanese and Korean Art

    17 September 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1049

    A Wood Figure of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Sho-Kannon) from Kofukuji (Kofukuji Sentai-butsu)


    Price Realised  


    A Wood Figure of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Sho-Kannon) from Kofukuji (Kofukuji Sentai-butsu)
    Heian period (12th century)
    Standing on a lotus platform, the right hand lowered in the gesture of the fulfilling of the vow and the right hand clasped as if to hold a flask, now lost, draped with a scarf over the shoulders and in loops at the knees and shins, the hair gathered high and embellished by a narrow crown; traces of pigment and gilding
    18½in. (47cm.) high including base

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    Sentai-butsu (one thousand buddhas) is the term used for a large group of paintings or sculptures, normally of similar style and dimensions. The practice of commissioning quantities of Buddhist icons was in place in Japan by the seventh century. The most famous of these collections are the one-thousand statues of Kannon in the Sanjusangendo in Kyoto.

    This image of Kannon was sold with sculptures and utensils by Kofukuji Temple, Nara, around 1900 to raise funds for maintenance. Many Buddhist temples encountered severe shortages when Shinto replaced Buddhism as the state religion. One of Japan's great private collectors, Masuda Takashi (Don'no; 1848-1938) is said to have been given seventy-seven objects, sixty of them recorded as sculptures similar to the figure shown here, when he contributed to the temple's reconstruction. The collector Fujita Denzaburo (Kosetsu; 1841-1912) acquired fifty, now in the Fujita Musem of Art, Osaka. Many other sculptures are known outside of Japan.


    Kofukuji Temple, Nara