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This very finely carved figure of an ancestor was commissioned by a family of either high status or wealth, having been carved from a single piece of an exquisite and rare hardwood with a lustrous patina. The removable head, which is fairly unique, is individualized with a round face, bald head, and oversized ears and markings to delineate his advanced age, a respected characteristic in 19th-century Chinese society. There is no indication of his status, however, as his robes are simple and he wears no hat indicating that he is not an official. He sat on a detached chair which is now missing and we are in the process of having one made for it . The exquisite carving in beautiful dense wood and patina make this a wonderful and distinctive piece in excellent condition with cracks and minor surface losses consistent with age and use.
Lovingly hand-made in a folder style, this antique religious document cover from Bolivia is decorated on each side with hand brocaded purple fabric with gold thread and symbolic Christian floral designs framed by geometric and curved decorative gold borders. It is in good condition showing considerable signs of wear and was used frequently as a religious article possibly as a holder of priests’ sermons or other important religious documents. Our images do not do it justice as they cannot capture light flickers from the gold threads interwoven in the borders and its vibrant gold floral patterns. The inside and ends are lined in red material.
This 18th-century antique hand-made metal 7-level stupa/pagoda was made in Nepal and was purchased in the 1970s in Kathmandu. This fine example has decorative details around the base and two of the round eaves have scalloped edges. It was used for personal devotion on a home altar or shrine. Antique Buddhist items are now extremely scarce in Nepal.
This antique Lao Buddha stands in refined dignity displaying inner tranquility and strength, hands in abhaya mudra that connotes reassurance, divine protection, and dispelling fear and signifies Buddha’s spiritual power as he bestows protection from evil and ignorance and conveys “fear not” to devotees. As typical of Lao Buddhas he is covered in gilt visually reflecting his golden skin and a finial or radiance as a flame emerging from his. His wet style Buddha robe that is smooth and graceful in its simplicity and adds elegance to the carving.
This Guanyin image was probably one of a pair of images along with the Taoist Queen Mother of the West placed together on a community, local temple or home altar. Created by the same local artisan, they are provincial rather than imperial style with a humble, unadorned and simple rendering, seated on backless thrones, hands covered by a ritual cloth – uncharacteristic of Guanyin but common for Taoist goddesses. Both wear layered robes and a high pointed crown – the Queen Mother’s centered by a phoenix and Guanyin’s by a flower surrounded by symbolic aureole of radiating light. Both have soft blissful smiles with eyes cast slightly downwards to engage their devotees. Initially covered in bright polychrome colors, there are traces of surviving red, yellow, green, brown and black.
This rare elegant gilt covered Jambupati Buddha wears regal Burmese court attire with luxuriant jewelry and huge decorative flanges surrounding his multi layered elaborate faceted crown that is topped by an elongated ushnisha. Seated on a high ornate multi-tiered waisted throne in Earth Witnessing position, he looks directly at onlookers with strength and a sweet smile to emphasize his spiritual and material power.
Dhokra items like this measuring bowl for rice or other grains are beautifully and often intricately decorated, very accessible, made with an appealing simplicity and in uncomplicated forceful and captivating forms. Made by the lost wax technique, each item has a distinct one-of-a-kind identity as the mold is broken after use so no copies can be made. This charming piece is a typical small grain measure and has a rounded lip, bulging body, and handle for hanging and decorated with horizontal striations across the top half bordered by a band of downward striated triangles, and a broad horizontal band at the center. It is in very good condition with a smooth patina from prolonged use and its considerable age.
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This exquisite and finely carved piece is the Taoist Queen Mother of the West sitting elegantly on a backless throne set on a hexagonal pedestal. She is a mature woman with full cheeks, an intense stare, heavy-lidded eyes, and a small but resolute chin. Her hair – pulled back above her pendulous ears, a sign of wisdom and her deified status – is up in a chignon under her headdress with a large finely carved seated phoenix. She wears a high-necked garment with graceful fully-flared robes with her hands together under a finely carved ritual cloth with an indention to hold a missing object, probably a staff. The image is triangular and culminates in the elaborately carved headdress which adds stability and strength to the image . Carved from dense wood with polychrome, gilt, and lacquer on the front side, it is in excellent condition with a crack on the back, most of the polychrome pigmentation and lacquer intact, minor insect holes now stabilized, and some losses consistent with age and use, none of which compromises its integrity.
This outstanding delicately carved Mahayana Buddhism image is Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, seated in the position of royal ease (lalitsana) on a rocky throne, a reference to her cave home the island of Putuo in the Southern China Sea. Masterfully carved, she has gentle curves thrusting her weight in opposing directions in a lyrical posture. Her refined outstretched right hand with gentle elongated fingers rests on her right knee and her left extends across her body to hold a scroll, a common iconographic symbol of the Lotus Sutra, one of the Buddhist scriptures where her deeds and powers are enumerated or the Dharma which she constantly reads. Portrayed as a mature compassionate woman in serene repose, her delicate face has half-closed almond eyes, pursed lips, and full cheeks. Her hair is atop her head in a chignon and she wears a loose robe open at the chest and tied at the waist. The deeply carved folds of the robe and the patterns on the rocky outcrop on which she sits exemplify its superior craftsmanship Her flowing robe has much original paint and the piece is in very good condition with normal signs of wear for its age and use including minor paint loses.
Guanyin’s elegance, compassion and serenity are emphasized in this graceful antique provincial carving. Portrayed in meditation with flowing robes on a majestic three-tiered lotus throne she was designed for personal veneration in a home setting.
Made for placement on a home altar, this small Guanyin sits in a lotus position (padmasana) feet upward and exposed, hands clasped in anjali mudra of prayer, reverence, respect. With a full face and downcast eyes, she is depicted in modest provincial style with symbols of her bodhisattva status: a 5-lobed diadem, hair in a chignon, braids draping down her shoulders, and a flowing robe. Her pendulous ears are a sign of wisdom, her ability to hear the cries of sentient beings, and her spiritual awakening. The two-part lotus throne is well carved as is the rest of the image.
This low profile bronze oil lamp from Trivandrum, South India is very similar to the one published in the 2006 exhibition catalog Flames of Devotion: Oil Lamps from South and Southeast Asia and the Himalayas issued to celebrate the gift of his collection by famous scholar and curator Pratapaditya Pal to UCLA’s Fowler Museum of Cultural History. Sean Anderson wrote the lamp from South India was “…an indicator of their dual role as devotional markers and articles of everyday use. With its attached ladle, the low-slung lamp includes a deep reservoir and cantilevered top with iconic imagery. The lines one sees on the edge of the plate suggest a link to the deity Shiva as they resemble the deity’s implement of choice, the trishul or three-pronged staff.” The distance from Trivandrum to Kerala where Pal’slamp was found is about 150 miles. The cobra-like end on both lamps may refer to Vasuki, the Hindu serpent often seen around Shiva’s neck. Vasuki is the serpent king (Nagaraja) of Hindu mythical semi-divine half-human and half cobra creatures. The lamp is in excellent condition with a wonderful patina.
Sean Anderson, Flames of Devotion: Oil Lamps from South and Southeast Asia and the Himalayas, Los Angeles, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 2006.
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