An Unusual White Marble Figure of a Monk, Tang/Song Dynasty, 10th-12th Century
The bald monk shown standing on a rectangular plinth carved in front with lotus petals, with body slightly twisted as he turns his head to the right, holding a rectangular box at his chest, wearing a shawl draped over long, layered robes that fall to the tops of his shoes, with broad neck and full face carved with small mouth and eyes and prominent nose. 24 in. (61 cm.) high, stand. Estimate $30,000 - $50,000
Provenance: C.T. Loo & Co., New York.
Frank Caro, New York, 1964.
Exhibited: An Exhibition of Chinese Stone Sculptures, C.T. Loo & Co., New York, 1940, no. 43.
Exhibition of Chinese Arts, C.T. Loo & Co., New York, 1 November 1941 - 30 April 1942, no. 941.
The Columbia University Exhibition of Three Thousand Years of the Ceramic Art and Ancient Sculpture of China from the Sackler Collections, Low Memorial Library, Columbia University, New York, 11 November 1962 - 18 June 1963, S-20.
On loan: Princeton University Art Museum, 1969 - October 2008, no. L.1969.80.
Notes: The present sculpture is closely related to two large (157 cm.) figures of Kasyapa and Ananda in the Shanghai Museum, illustrated in Zhongguo Gudai Diaosuguan, Shanghai, 1997, p. 29, where they are dated to the Song dynasty. Of particular note are the distinctive plump faces and small, delicate features. The manner of carving seen on the loosely draped robes is also quite similar, and all three figures can be seen atop a lotus base of nearly identical form.
A related figure of Ananda datable to 752, also with small facial features, although clad in slightly more elaborate robes and standing on an open lotus flower, can be found in the Foguang Monastery, and is illustrated by J. Li in Essence of Buddhistic Statues, Beijing, 1995, p. 152, no. 132. Another similar marble figure of a monk of comparable size (69.6 cm.), also dated to the Tang dynasty, is in the collection of The Royal Ontario Museum. See Comprehensive Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Buddhist Statues in Overseas Collections, vol. 6, Beijing, 2005, p. 1135.
Christie's. Fine Chinese Art From The Arthur M. Sackler Collections. 18 March 2009 New York, Rockefeller Plaza www.christies.com Image Christie's Ltd 2009