Figures carve out place of honour at California auction

A number of interesting pieces are coming up for auction at I M Chait's Asian Art sale on January 24.

We've already covered some of the pottery pieces, but some of the carvings are also notable, especially two carved forms of Guan Yin.

In Buddhist tradition, Guan Yin is a bodhisattva venerated by East Asian Buddhists. A bodhisattva is a compassionate character prepared to wait for Nirvana until all other sentient beings are ready for Enlightenment.

As an alternative, Taoists see Guan Yin explicitly as an immortal, and the name translates across as Goddess of Mercy. Regardless, such figures were placed around a dwelling to give comfort and inspiration.

Rock Crystal Guan Yin
Rock Crystal Guan Yin

The rock crystal carving of Guan Yin is 15in tall, and sits in a relaxed, almost regal pose extending a sceptre with a large 'flaming pearl' beside her. Details have been 'frosted' on.

The pale green and lavender coloured Guan Yin is still taller at 25.5in, standing on a double-lotus and carrying the same pearl and sceptre. It is a more active figure with its robes swirling round its feet.

Jadeite Guan Yin carving
Jadeite Guan Yin carving

Both pieces have guide prices of up to $8,000, though Chinese art has often greatly exceeded estimates in recent times.

Those in America who cannot reach I M Chait's auction in California may be interested to know that there is an exquisite wood carving of a bodhisattva at the Nelson Atkins museum. We described their Chinese art collection in a recent newsletter.


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