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Gianguan Auctions sale highlights early Buddhist art, jade carvings, historic paintings and Zisha teapots
Han Dynasty (221-206 BC) carved jade jar with eighteen sinuous qilins. 11” tall. 20 lbs. Estimated at $1M.

NEW YORK, NY.- On June 10th, Gianguan Auctions brings to the podium an unusual slate of masterworks and small collectibles. Early Buddhist art and historic paintings together with outstanding artisanal works for daily life–Zisha teapots, Chinese seals, carved jades, early ceramics–give collectors access the icons and subtle arts of the culture.

“Bird in a Lotus Pond,” a sharp edged and spare painting by Bada Shangren (Zhu Da), the Ming prince turned monk turned professional artist, comes to the podium with a $1.5 Million valuation. The focus of the enigmatic work is an isolated, long beaked bird on a broken branch, caught between pond below and flowers above. It is Lot 80, signed with the Zhu Da characters that resemble the signs for laughing and crying, has one artist seal, and is of the period.

The day’s other marque offering is a $1,000,000 jade jar that has survived intact from the Han Dynasty (221-206 BC). Staggering in size and complexity, the whitish jade is covered in sinuous carvings of eighteen coiling, crouching, weaving qilins, the ancient hoofed, fire breathing chimera said to appear in the presence of a sage or illustrious leader. The jar’s size–11” tall–and weight–20 pounds–indicates the nearly two-thousand-year-old vessel was a very special commission. Lot 120 is now destined to go to a very special collector.

Once Buddhism took hold during the Han Dynasty (206-220 AD), artists created statues, plaques, and altar pieces for public adoration and private worship. These reflections of faith have long appealed to an international audience that often-overlooked provenance for prestige. The properties in this sale were sourced in domestic collections. The earliest work is a Northern Wei (386-535AD) stone Bodhisattva, in an unusual seated asana with crossed ankles and hands in mudras “fear not” and “charity.” Backed by a mandorla, positioned atop a base flanked by lions, the 11” tall, mottled figure with some remaining pigment captures the sculptural style of the Wei period. It is Lot 148, valued at $40,000 or above. Two hundred years later, during the Northern Qi (550-557 AD) period, an anonymous artist carved a marble statue of a slender standing Buddha that has been passed down through the generations. In a frontal stance, with a columnar posture marked by a curved profile, and a long robe with parallel U-shaped folds, the image is typical of the period. The figure stands 33” tall and weighs nearly 80 pounds. It is Lot 145, valued at more than $60,000.

The Song Dynasty (960-1127) then produced a bronze Bodhisattva Manjushri riding on the back of a Buddhist lion. The 10” tall statue weighs more than four pounds. It is Lot 153, similar to an example in the Palace Museum Beijing, and valued at more than $30,000. A surviving statue form the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1371) is a gilt and celadon glazed Guanyin. The face, headpiece and jewelry are gilt. The delicate facial gestures demonstrate the skill of Yuan Longquan potters. Lot 157, the 26” tall statue is set to go off at above $20,000.

From the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) comes a large golden robed Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin) seated with one hand on raised knee. The 14” tall bronze carries the Qianlong Imperial six character mark embossed in a rectangle. It is Lot 155, of the period, and valued at more than $30,000.

Among the paintings, realism, symbolism and calligraphy depict the epic themes of Chinese life. “Scholar in the Mountain,” by Qing Dynasty painter Shi Tao, contrasts the lasting grandeur of nature with the ephemeral life of mortals. Dated 1666, inscribed and signed, with one artist seal, it is Lot 111, opening at $200,000. Pursuing a similar theme, “Stormy Wind and Waves,” by Yuan Yao, dated 1754, depicts a small boat making its way through the channel of a mountain river. Inscribed and signed Yuan Yao, Lot 139, has one artist seal. Bidding starts at S100,000. Another 17th century ink on paper titled “Bamboo,” was created by Zheng Xin (Ban Qiao). The two dominant stalks in the foreground are interspersed with calligraphy. Inscribed, signed and bearing two artist seals, Lot 109 opens at $150,000.

Modern master, Xu Beihong’s 1943 work “Two Horses Drinking Water” is a powerful portrayal of the pair at rest, untethered and comfortable, perhaps a graphic parable. It is inscribed and signed Beihong and has two artist seals. Lot 202, it is valued at $80,000 or above. Qi Baishi’s vibrant “Rooster and Young” brings the traits of fidelity and punctuality to the fore as the dynamic animal, proud in its yellow and black plumage and red cockscomb, shows two downy young he is master of the roost. Signed, with three artist seals, the opening bid on Lot 90 is $80,000.

For the complete slate of Chinese scroll paintings, many with animals and plants depicting harmony, good fortune, health, please visit the online catalog. The range for the works runs from $5000 upwards.

The need to nourish the body as well as the spirit is evident in a collection of more than twenty Zisha teapots. One of the highlights is Lot 159, Gu Jingzhou’s high profile, bamboo reed pot with a mouse finial and a caterpillar on the spout by. It has three artists marks and is valued at upwards of $5,000. Lot 166, with five artist marks, also from Gu Jingzhou, is round, compact and decorated with ruyi. It has a snub snout and generous curved handle. Bidding starts at $800. Lot 167, by Yang Youlan is incised with a poem and pine and crane motif. It has two artist’s marks, and will fetch about $500.

Several Qing Dynasty tea pots prove their durability with style. Lot 274, for instance, has a round high profile and is decorated with lotus leaves and quatrefoil birds amid foliage. Lot 275, a burnished reddish-brown pot of medium profile by Yongfang has a domed lid and a Buddhist lion finial while its body is decorated with lions at play and the shou symbol. It is carries the Kangxi imperial dragon mark. Lot 276 has an unusual relief carved cloth wrapper and the artist mark of Li Huifang. Lot 169 is a spirited pig shaped pot with a coin spout, bearing the Qianlong six charter mark. The “purple clay” teapots range in value from $300 to $2,500.

Scholars and businessmen will appreciate the strong collection of Chinese seals, from spare stone columns of shoushan and icy furong to carved free-form stones. For example, Lot 93, by Qing artist Wu-Kai, has a dragon-tortoise knop, and is dated 1831. Lots 90 and 96 are substantial Tianghuang square pedestals with a qilin atop. Of rich golden color, the hefty seals run $600 to $2,500.

Notable among the scholars’ objects is a massive songhua stone square double ink-well with a double grinding surface and recessed water pools, reminiscent of Double-Happiness. It is inscribed with a four-character seal in Manchurian and Han Characters Seal Script: Huang Di Zhi Bao, Imperial Treasure. It is Lot 278, expected to command upwards of $2,000.

A songhua eggplant-form Inkstone similar to one in the Palace Museum at Taipei is crafted with has curly vines, tendrils and leaves. There is an eye at the grinding surface and the small well, forming the sun and moon. Of the Qing Dynasty, it is 7” long, signed Miao Quan Sun, and carries the inscription: As Immutable as Stone. It is Lot 279. Bidding begins at $3,000.

Early and modern jades will inspire spirited bidding. Among the most unusual is a gilt white jade ritual vessel that is formed by the co-joining of two mythical beasts. Created during theTang Dynasty (618-907 AD) it offers insight into the advanced sophistication of artisanal works. The double beast vessel is Lot 252, carrying a pre-sale estimate upwards of $20,000.

A Han Dynasty (206-220) craftsman created the gilt jade and polychrome qilin, rearing on a crested wave stand. Even earlier, Lot 119, a Neolithic carved jade is primitive humanoid figure of pale celadon, with calcified inclusions. A Western Zhou reticulated jade phoenix with mythical beasts is positioned at Lot 253. The standing sculpture is 9” tall. Bidding of on each of the above begins at $8,000.

A massive, double ring jade disk with nine sections that tell the story of the Book of Han Fujiezi in clerical script is poised to incite strong interest. At the center, a medallion comprised of two-halves meet in open fret work. Nine fitted arcs bearing script surround it, expanding the diameter to 22”. The jade is green with tones of russet. It is Lot 211, opening at $25,000.

As a statement piece worn on special occasions, Lot 51, a Qing Dynasty pink jade and tourmaline court necklace with lapis lazuli beds, and a “back cloud” is the stand out at upwards of $10,000. Less expensive investments of jade jewelry, vintage coral, even carved olive pit have been revitalized in contemporary settings, (Lots 39 - 42, 40,48, 81, to cite a few).

For a comprehensive look at the Korean ceramics and Chinese porcelain, please see the catalog at

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