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A VERY RARE AND FINELY CAST GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF MAITREYA
A VERY RARE AND FINELY CAST GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF MAITREYA
A VERY RARE AND FINELY CAST GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF MAITREYA
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A VERY RARE AND FINELY CAST GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF MAITREYA
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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE ASIAN COLLECTION SOLD TO BENEFIT MENTAL HEALTH CHARITIES IN ASIA
A VERY RARE AND FINELY CAST GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF MAITREYA

INCISED YONGLE SIX-CHARACTER PRESENTATION MARK AND OF THE PERIOD (1403-1425)

Details
A VERY RARE AND FINELY CAST GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF MAITREYA
INCISED YONGLE SIX-CHARACTER PRESENTATION MARK AND OF THE PERIOD (1403-1425)
The figure is seated in dhyanasana on a double-lotus base, with his main hands held in dharmachakra mudra holding the tips of lotus stems, one lotus stem bearing his attribute of a flask. The figure is wearing a flowing dhoti tied at waist and sash over the shoulders revealing the chest adorned with beaded pendent jewellery. The face provides a benevolent expression with painted eyes and lips, his hair worn in braids and curling topknot with loose strands falling over the shoulders. The upper surface of the base is incised with a six-character mark, Da Ming Yongle nian shi, ‘Bestowed in the Great Ming Yongle period’.
8 ½ in. (20.1 cm.) high, box
Provenance
Yoritomo Motohiro (1945-2015), Japan, renowned scholar of Buddhist art

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Priscilla Kong
Priscilla Kong

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Lot Essay

The present figure belongs to an exceptional group of finely cast Buddhist figures made by the Imperial workshop of the early 15th century. Figures from this group are distinguished by their excellent quality of casting, rich gilding, and the outstanding execution of details. In the preceding century under the Yuan Dynasty, the authority of Mongol rulers had become closely associated with Tibetan Buddhist or Lamaist rituals. The tradition of Lamaist art continued into the Ming period and prevailed in works of art such as the present example. Missions to Tibet were sent during the early part of the Ming dynasty and sought to maintain good relations with the Tibetan lamas, and images such as the present lot appear to have been made as gifts that were exchanged on such visits.

The upturned eyes and the long, narrow petals on the lotus base suggest that the present figure was made during the early part of the Yongle reign. Figures from the later Yongle reign generally have rounder facial contours with less arched eyebrows and eyes, and broader petals on the base. Very few other gilt-bronze figures of Maitreya from the early 15th century have been published. Compare to a very similar Yongle-marked figure of Maitreya illustrated in Buddhist Images in Gilt Metal, Taipei, 1993, pp. 58-59, no. 22 (fig. 1); and two other Yongle-marked figures of Maitreya in Tibet with cold-gilded faces, one displayed in the Li ma Iha khang of the Potala Palace, illustrated by Ulrich von Schroeder in Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, vol. II, Tibet & China, Hong Kong, 2001, p. 1236, figs. XX-1, XX-2; the other in the collection of the Gtsug-lag-khang Temple, see ibid., pp. 1250-1251, no. 343F.

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