A fine Limestone Head of a Buddha, Northern Qi Dynasty, ca. 550 - 577 CE
Regular price$42,000 USD
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With almost perfect symmetry, this finely carved head imparts a delicate, serene vitality. The eyebrows, issuing from the bridge of the nose, rise in smooth curves, and the large, deeply-set eyes are half-closed under heavy lids that sweep in bowstring arcs. The crisp undulating lips form a subtle smile. The head is flanked by large ears with deeply cut lobes, beneath stylized hair of undulating and overlapping waves, rising rhythmically up to the smoothly domed ushnisha and centered with two whorls.
This head, with its delicate features and refined carving style, is reminiscent of examples from the large cache of Northern Qi dynasty Buddhist statues discovered at the former Longxing Temple at Qingzhou, Shandong province. Sculptures from this site were included in the exhibition Masterpieces of Buddhist Statuary from Qingzhou City, Museum of National History, Beijing, 1999, and in the exhibition Return of the Buddha. The Qingzhou Discoveries, the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2002.
Compare another stone head of similar date, from the Paul Wang collection, Michigan, included in the exhibition Chinese Buddhist Sculpture from the Wei through the T’ang Dynasties, National Museum of History, Taipei, 1983.
The Northern Qi dynasty (550 - 577 CE) was one of the most vibrant periods in the history of Chinese art, both religious and secular, as its openness towards foreigners, their ideas, beliefs, and goods, immensely enriched the local cultural climate. Buddhist sculpture experienced perhaps its most glorious moment in this period. While in the Northern Wei Period (386 - 534 CE), manners of depiction had only just been adapted from their south and central Asian prototypes, in the Northern Qi they had matured and developed into native styles. This sculpture is one of the classic images of the period when sculptors were more interested in capturing a spiritual message through delicate facial features.
Condition: The head is intact and in excellent condition overall, with expected wear and deposits commensurate with age.
Dimensions: Height: 10 1/4 inches (26 cm) and 11 3/4 inches (29.8 cm), including custom mount.
Provenance: Private Swiss collection, acquired from the trade in 1997.
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