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A MAGNIFICENT LARGE GREY LIMESTONE STANDING FIGURE OF BUDDHA
A MAGNIFICENT LARGE GREY LIMESTONE STANDING FIGURE OF BUDDHA
A MAGNIFICENT LARGE GREY LIMESTONE STANDING FIGURE OF BUDDHA
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A MAGNIFICENT LARGE GREY LIMESTONE STANDING FIGURE OF BUDDHA
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PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF A LADY
A MAGNIFICENT LARGE GREY LIMESTONE STANDING FIGURE OF BUDDHA

NORTHERN QI DYNASTY (AD 550-577)

Details
A MAGNIFICENT LARGE GREY LIMESTONE STANDING FIGURE OF BUDDHA NORTHERN QI DYNASTY (AD 550-577) The slender, elegant figure is shown standing on top of a tapering socle with right hand raised in abhaya mudra, and the left hand lowered as it holds the edge of his diaphanous, layered robes that cling to the contours of the body as they fall to just above the ankles, the graceful folds indicated by single or double carved lines. The face is carved with a serene expression, and the hair is dressed in whorl-like curls that also cover the domed ushnisha. 67 3/8 in (171.3 cm.) high
Provenance
J. T. Tai, New York, 1964.
Arthur M. Sackler Collections, New York.
Acquired from the above in 1974.
Literature
H. Munsterberg, Sculpture of the Orient, New York, 1972, pl. 83.
Exhibited
New York, Low Memorial Library, Columbia University, The Columbia University Exhibition of Art of the T'ang Dynasty and its Antecedents from the Sackler Collections, March 1967, entrance.

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Lot Essay


Stylistically, this large standing figure of Buddha is a fine representation of Buddha figures of Northern Qi date, and its dignified, upright stance combined with the simplicity of the robes that cling to the body show the strong influence of the earlier Gupta style from Sarnath, India. The small mouth and thin nose, the large, elongated ears with flat, unpierced lobes, and the whorl-like curls are also all characteristic of the Northern Qi style.

The present figure shown standing with the right hand raised palm outward in the preaching gesture, abhaya mudra, which implies "do not fear," is dressed in the thin, layered robes of a monk. These robes, each a long, rectangular piece of cloth that is wrapped around or draped over the body in a prescribed fashion, are known in Sanskrit as the sanghati, an outer robe that covers both shoulders and the chest, the uttarasanga, and the antaravasaka, which are the under robes. The antaravasaka, or dhoti, is the inner robe that covers the lower body from the waist to just above the ankles. This is worn under the other inner robe, the uttarasanga, which covers the left shoulder and crosses the chest diagonally, but leaves the right shoulder and right arm bare and falls short of the lower edge of the dhoti. The present figure appears to wear these two robes in the prescribed manner, but not the sanghati, and the folds of the dhoti are visible both in front and in back below the lower edge of the uttarasanga. While the right hand is held in abhaya mudra, the lowered left hand, shown with the back of the hand facing outward, can be seen to hold the edge of the uttarasanga.

The present figure was originally painted, with gold applied to the face, chest and upper right arm. The drapery of the thin fabric of the robes is rendered in carved single or double lines rather than carved in relief, or absent altogether. On the present figure only the faintest traces of pigment remain, as well as accretions on the back of the robe that suggest that it was painted with a patchwork pattern. A grey limestone figure of Buddha of Northern Qi date, but of smaller size (70.5 cm. high), shown standing in a similar pose and also wearing a robe that leaves the right shoulder bare and is defined only with paint, was sold at Christie's New York, 22 March 2019, lot 1610.

A very similar but smaller figure (142 cm. high), which has the right hand raised in abhaya mudra, the left in varada mudra, is illustrated in Ancient Asian Sculptures from the Matsuoka Collection, Tokyo, 1994, p. 96, pl. 52, where it is dated Northern and Southern dynasties, 6th century. (Fig. 1) The face, hair, ears and slender profile are very similar to those of the present figure, as are the carved details of the dhoti that hangs below the lower edge of the uttarasanga.

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