A PALE GREY LIMESTONE TORSO OF A BODHISATTVA
Tang dynasty, 8th century
US$ 60,000 - 90,000
£ 43,000 - 65,000
2021 年 9 月 20 日，美国东部时间 12:00
20 Sep 2021, 12:00 EDT
On loan to the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts,
BenjaminW. Rowland, Jr. 麻省剑桥，1952年12月
Left Standing Bodhisattva, Tianlongshan Cave 17, West Wall
Benjamin W. Rowland, Jr. Cambridge, Massachusetts, December 1952
The James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection, prior to 1965
喜龙仁，Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the FourteenthCentury，伦敦，1925年，第5卷，图版500
Harry Vanderstappen and Marylin Rhie, 'The Sculpture of T'ien Lung Shan:Reconstruction and Dating,' Artibus Asiae, 第27卷第3期，1965年，图版61，页189-237
Illustrated in situ by Osvald Siren, Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteenth Century [London, E. Benn, 1925], vol. IV, pl. 500; and 1998 reprint, vol. 1, pl. 500, center right
Harry Vanderstappen and Marylin Rhie, 'The Sculpture of T'ien Lung Shan: Reconstruction and Dating,' Artibus Asiae, vol. 27, no. 3 (1965), pp. 189-237 discussed on p. 204 and illustrated as fig. 61
Illustrated in Tianlongshan Shiku, Beijing Foreign Language Press, 2003, nos. 179, 182 and 185
Illustrated in another historical photograph view of the Cave 17 west wall, second figure from the right, website for the University of Chicago, Center for the Art of East Asia, Tianlongshan Caves Project, Cave 17 in 'Caves' file (https://tls.uchicago.edu)
Shown standing in subtle tribhanga pose with hands clasped prayerfully at the chest in namaskaramudra, the diaphanous dhoti worn rolled at the hips below the rounded belly and clinging in crisp curved folds on the legs; the head of a later date, carved with delicate features and downcast eyes on a full-cheeked face, the hair pulled up into a tall coiled chignon behind a scrolled tiara with central jewel.
31 5/8in (80.3cm) high, overall 23in (58.4cm) high, to the shoulder
The Buddhist cave temples of Tianlongshan are located to the southwest of Taiyuan City in Shanxi Province. The recorded history on the caves is sparse; but the sculptures there have been dated by comparison to known monuments from the sixth to the eighth century, extending from the Northern Wei through the Tang period. It was the exquisite quality of the sculptural programs initiated there by unknown patrons during the first half of the eight century that drew scholars, photographers and despoilers to the mountain site in the opening years of the twentieth century.
The seated bodhisattvas in Cave 17 and in the other Tang caves seem to lean forward with an easy grace, their heads and arms held at various angles. The Buddhas sit impassively on their various supports, their bulk emphasized by swaths of drapery that fall in natural weighty folds across the surfaces. The Alsdorf bodhisattva on the proper left side of the seated Buddha on the west wall also exudes a sense of natural, implied movement: his head leans slightly toward his right side, the bracelets on his wrists falling at differing levels down his arms as he joins his hands together. His belly swells gently outward as he breathes, his right hip slightly raised to support his weight. The same features are repeated in his companion standing on the proper right side of the seated Buddha.
When Siren photographed the figures in Cave 17, he saw a distinctive Indian influence in their full forms and free positions of the figures. Certainly the sculpture of India did influence Chinese Buddhist sculptors in earlier centuries. On the other hand, the Vanderstappen and Rhie study listed above proposed a more immediate influence: the city of Taiyuan was honored with the title of Northern Capital in 690 and again in 732, suggesting patronage from circles closely connected to the Tang imperial house (see The Sculpture of T'ien Lung Shan,' p. 216, footnote 129). Professor Angela Howard also noted that a prominent patron with affluent taste must have commissioned such sculptures, particularly of Caves 14, 17, 18 and 21. In fact she opined that the vivid naturalism of their humanlike movement and dreamlike expressions evoke more the atmosphere of figures in a court gathering than an assembly divine beings (see Angela Falco Howard [et al.], Chinese Sculpture [Yale University Press, 2006], p. 309.)
Unfortunately the beauty of these sculptures was also their undoing. The recent Tianlongshan Caves Project listed above has plotted the process that ensued after the caves were discovered in the early years of the 20th century: first the heads from various figures were removed, followed by a second wave when whole figures, hands and relief carvings were cut from the walls. Some of the incomplete figures were then offered for sale with replacement heads made at the time that do not match the complete figures documented in the earlier in situ photographs. In their 1965 study of the Tianlong sculptures, Vanderstappen and Rhie listed a number of these separated figures in their discussion of Cave 17. This includes the Alsdorf bodhisattva, the disparity noticed between the head on the figure in 1965 as compared to an archival photo of the complete original figure (see 'The Sculpture of T'ien Lung Shan,' pp. 203-204; and p. 232, fig. 59 showing the Alsdorf bodhisattva in an in situ photograph; fig. 61, the figure with replacement head in 1965). The 1965 photograph of the Alsdorf bodhisattva, in turn, matches photos been taken after 2013 for the Tianlongshan Caves Project, where the sculpture is identified as from the west wall of Cave 17, in a private collection and that the 'head is not original' (see in the photos section, Bodhisattva Standing PRV.UOC.511, height given as 66cm). The Tianlongshan Caves Project also proposes that the original head for the Alsdorf bodhisattva is now in the collection of the Kosetsu Museum, Kobe (see in the photos section, Bodhisattva Head KMA.UNKNOWN.1, as 25.9cm high).
One final note to consider is the small scale of the Alsdorf bodhisattva and the other sculptures originating from Cave 17. Vanderstappen and Rhie recorded the measurements for the interior of Cave 17 as 8 feet in depth, 8 feet in width; 5 ¾ feet in height near the wall and 7 feet in height at the center. The Alsdorf bodhisattva is less than 3 feet in height, while the seated bodhisattva in the Rietberg Museum, Zurich - unusually well preserved to include the head and pendant left leg – measures only 101cm (39 3/4in) in height (see Tianlongshan Caves Project, in photos section, Bodhisattva Seated RBM.RCh.146). That these sculptures of comparatively small size manage to create such a monumental impression is a tribute to the genius of the Tang sculptors who created them.