Paris – Rare 15th Century Ming bronze for $3.8mil at Sotheby’s

On 10th June, 2015, Sotheby’s Paris auctioned a rare large gilt-bronze figure of the Buddha Vairocana from a German private collection, for a hefty €3.395.000 ($3.847.655). This figure of Vairocana, also known as the supreme Buddha, is adorned with a regal crown and earrings befitting his stature, while the simple robes of a monk denote humility and compassion. Only one other piece of this distinct 15th century type is known and it is in the collection of the Newark Museum.

The Buddha Vairocana has been acquired by an Asian buyer whose name has not been revealed. This rare gilt bronze figure depicts the supreme Buddha Vairocana embodying the seminal Indian Vajrayana Buddhist text ‘Mahavairocana Abhisambhodi Tantra’. The sutra, possibly composed in the great university of Nalanda in the province of Bihar, was transmitted to China in the eighth century by the Indian monk Subhakarasimha. The hands, locked together in a bodhyagri mudra, express the concept of ultimate reality and wisdom. The face is a study of composure and intensity, imbuing the statue with a commanding presence. Indeed the deeply cut narrowed eyes, full mouth and broad features indicate the early Ming dynasty provenance of the bronze comparable to numerous mid-fifteenth century Chinese Buddhist sculptures, most notably a crowned Buddha of similar size in the Newark Museum.

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