A fine and rare pair of carved wood figures of seated bodhisattvas
Song Dynasty The figures finely carved, each seated regally in meditative posture, vajrasana, with one hand held before the chest and the other in avakashamudra, wearing layered robes falling loosely around the chest and exposing elaborately carved necklaces, the serene facial expression detailed with half-open eyes and a gentle smile, framed by a pair of long pendulous earlobes beneath a foliate tiara securing a neatly drawn-up topknot. 44cm (17 2/8in) high. (2).
The Property of a Gentleman 士紳藏品宋 木雕菩薩坐像 一對Provenance: Mario Prodan Collection, RomeChristie's London, 5 June 1995, lot 105Jean-Yves Ollivier Collection來源：羅馬Mario Prodan先生舊藏1995年6月5日於倫敦佳士得拍賣，拍品105號歐宗易先生珍藏Elegantly proportioned and realistically carved, the present lot well illustrates the fine craftsmanship of Song dynasty carvers. The benevolent facial expressions, shown in the plump cheeks, downcast eyes and gentle smiles, together with free flowing draperies intricately sculpted by fine folds and contours, suggest that the present pair of figures depict Avalokiteshvara, also known as Guanyin, the benevolent Goddess of Mercy. Venerated in Indian Buddhism as the embodiment of the Compassion of the Buddha, Avalokiteshvara (known as Guanyin in China) is described in the 'Lotus Sutra', as capable of hearing all mankind, striving endlessly to help those offering prayers, transforming at will and appearing in more than thirty human guises to expound Buddhist teaching to devotees. The present pair of figures would most likely have stood on an altar, venerated in connection with religious beliefs concerning the devotee's rebirth in the blissful Pure Land presided over by Amithaba Buddha. Introduced into China from India during the 2nd century AD, 'Pure Land' Buddhism was based on the belief that Amitabha granted rebirth of the dead in his wondrous realm to whoever meditated on him through chanting and prostration. The three main scriptures forming the core of the Pure Land teachings, namely the'Sutra of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life', the 'Sutra of Visualizing the Buddha of Immeasurable Life', and the 'Amitabha Sutra', all refer to Amitabha and Guanyin as capable of liberating the devotees from the Wheel of Samsara and allowing them entry into the Pure Land where they finally attained enlightenment.As 'Pure Land' Buddhism grew in popularity during the 6th century, probably in response to the contemporaneous political instability and the resulting preoccupation with attaining enlightenment during such a perilous time, so did the prominence of Avalokiteshvara as 'the supreme saviour of all beings'.Compare with a related wood figure of Avalokiteshvara, Song dynasty, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, illustrated by D.Pleidy and D.Stratham, Wisdom Embodied. Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Sculpture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2010, no.27, p.125. Another example in the Avery Brundage Collection, San Francisco, is illustrated by R.Y.d'Argence, Chinese, Korean and Japanese Sculpture in the Avery Brundage Collection, San Francisco, 1974, pl.145.A related but larger wood figure of Avalokiteshvara, Southern Song dynasty, was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 8 October 2013, lot 3074.菩薩二像開臉祥和，體態豐腴，皆盤坐，外罩薄衫，垂墜自然，頸佩瓔珞，手部佚失，法印不可辨識，髮髻和寶冠各有不同，一作盤雲髻，頂戴寶瓶冠，一作束髪，頭頂寶月花冠。從髪冠判斷，此對菩薩像或為淨土宗的觀世音菩薩和大勢至菩薩，最初可能陳列於供台上，分列於阿彌陀佛像兩側，組成典型說法場景。淨土宗開山於唐代，是禪宗之外，影響東亞諸國最深遠的佛教宗派。阿彌陀佛和觀世音菩薩、大勢至菩薩的三聖組合，基於無量壽經對西方極樂世界的描繪，是淨土宗寺廟最常見的造像組合。紐約大都會藏有一件宋代木雕觀世音像可資參考，見D.PLeidy及D.Stratham著，《Wisdom Embodied. Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Sculpture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art（大都會博物館藏中國佛道造像）》，紐約，2010年，編號27，頁125；三藩市埃弗里·布倫戴奇收藏一件類似觀音像，亦資比較，見R.Y.d'Argence 著，《Chinese, Korean and Japanese Sculpture in the Avery Brundage Collection（埃弗里·布倫戴奇收藏中日韓造像）》，三藩市，1974年，圖版145。另可比較香港蘇富比2013年10月8日售出一件南宋木雕觀音像，拍品3074號。