Chinese jade luohan carving sells for $479,500 at Bonhams

Bonhams came under fire from China this week, yet its Fine Chinese Art auction in London still saw strong results on November 9, with a jade luohan carving selling as top lot.

The planned auction of two jade pieces that were reportedly looted from Beijing's Old Summer Palace in the 1800s saw Bonhams issue an apology to disgruntled Chinese officials, and the items pulled from the sale. Read more here.

Chinese jade lohan carving auction Bonhams
Despite controversy surrounding the sale, the jade carving sold well

Despite this, another of the auction's jade items - an 18th century carving of a luohan - sold for £301,250 ($479,540).

Luohan is the Chinese word for an arhat, which in Buddhism is someone who has followed the eightfold path and attained the four stages of enlightenment. These 18 original followers of Buddha are deemed protectors of the Buddhist faith and frequently appear in Chinese art.

The example at auction is carved from fine white jade and shows the luohan seated in a grotto on a traditional woven mat. A superbly carved piece, it stands 17cm high and shows the luohan reading next to a delicate waterfall and intricately carved wutong and willow trees.

Imperia Chinese Incense Burner aucton Bonhams
The Vietnamese emperor abdicated and left for France, where he sold the incense burner

Also starring among the top lots of the sale was a "monumental" 19th century imperial incense burner. The piece was thought to have been gifted by the Qing dynasty to the last Vietnamese emperor of the Nguyen dynasty, Bao Dai (1913-1997), who, following his abdication, is believed to have sold it to the famous French singer Lucienne Suzanne Dhotelle. It sold for £181,250 ($288,601) against a £150,000-250,000 estimate.

Paul Fraser Collectibles continues to bring you the latest news and investment advice on Chinese art collecting. For more, sign up to our free weekly newsletter.

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