Hong Kong – The Qing court had a long-standing respect for Tibetan Buddhism. This is clearly seen in the imperial collection of Buddhist figures, which show traces of both the Tibetan and the Imperial aesthetics. A rare surviving example of this tradition – a Gilt Copper Alloy Triad of Shakyamuni Buddha from 18th Century – was sold at Bonhams’ Images of Devotion sale in Hong Kong today (30 November 2022) for HK$8,067,000, twice as much as its estimate of HK$4,000,000-6,000,000.
Edward Wilkinson, Global Head of Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art at Bonhams, commented: “This triad bears the hallmarks of the top artists influenced by Zanabazar: wide shoulders and a strong torso on the signature round lotus seat to form a complete set as a shrine. Measuring 43cm in height, this is a rare surviving example of its type, with a comparable currently on display at the Hong Kong Palace Museum. We are delighted, but not surprised, that a treasure as this could surpass top expectation in today’s sale.”
The sale also saw a strong demand for fine Thangkas. Highlights include an extremely vibrant Thangka of Shakyamuni Buddha from the 18th century Eastern Tibet, which sold for HK$5,043,000 (imaged left below). Despite having survived more than 300 years, the saturated hue and brushwork on this Thangka are still preserved in near pristine condition, and it also bears lengthy dedication inscriptions befitting an important commission. This Thangka is similar to another example from the Imperial Qing court, suggesting its probable prominent patronage. In the same vein, two other rare Thangkas sold for more than twice of their estimates. They are namely a Thangka of Vajravarahi Tibet, circa 12th Century (imaged middle below), which sold for HK$3,027,000 (estimate: HK$1,200,000-1,600,000); and a Thangka of Vairocana Central Tibet, 14th/15th Century (imaged right below), which sold for HK$1,389,000 (estimate: HK$650,000-950,000).