Examining a 17th C. Ming Dynasty Bronze Buddha

17th C. Ming Dynasty Bronze Buddha 

Note: Click any image to enlarge.
17th C. Ming Buddha
16th C. Ming Bronze Buddha
17th C. Ming Buddha
17th C. Ming Buddha
A couple weeks ago we had the very good fortune to acquire a great 17th C. Ming dynasty Bronze Buddha and thought it would be nice to share.

While bronze Buddha's from the Ming dynasty are not common in that you find them everywhere, certain types , those under 12" or 13" tall in reasonably decent condition can and are found here in New England. Over the years we've sold many mostly to collectors in the EU and in mainland China as well as Hong Kong.

16th C. Kwan Yin
Early to mid 16th C. Kwan Yin
16th C. Ming Bronze Buddha
Early to mid 16th C. Ming Bronze Buddha
The fairly typical ones are depicted to the left and right here. Most date from the early 16th into the first half of the 17th C. On occasion you might come across an earlier one from the late Yuan and early Ming. 

All perched on a lotus bases, with nice surfaces and on occasions with an inscription of some kind. Sometimes with a date.  

Typically they have no bottom plate like those found on Tibetan figures and not as often gilded. But may have pigment and lacquer coatings. These typically sell in the $3,500 to $15,500 range depending on surface, details and condition. 

A Large 17th C. Ming Dynasty Bronze Buddha

17th C. Chinese Bronze Buddha
23.9 " 17th C. Chinese Bronze Buddha
17th C. Ming Dynasty Bronze Buddha Then you have these other examples, like this very large and gilt lacquered 17th C. Ming dynasty Bronze Buddha. Measuring 23.90" tall, in three sections comprising the octagonal balustrade base with waves inside the balusters with a centered bronze post to support the Lotus blossom stand for the 16" tall Buddha.

A number of things obviously sets this example apart for the more run of the mill bronzes. First off is the size, bronze Buddha's with stands are exceedingly rare. We did a bit of checking ith both Christie's and Sothebys'. In the last 6 or 7 years Sotheby's has had roughly 3 or 4 of these and Christie's had none that we could find, I must assume there were a couple, but couldn't find them.

The Face and Details

The details of this particular casting are quite excellent. The clear sharp execution of the face, it's shape and proportions are all done nearly perfectly. The hair of the figure is colored with powdered Lapis Lazuli mixed with a thin solution of hide glue (typically) as a binder. 

Ming Bronze Buddha base
Ming Buddha Lotus Base
Ming Buddha Base with waves
Ming Buddha Base with waves

The Lacquer Finish

This Buddha was also coated with a fine wash of gilt lacquer originally, something that up until the late 1600's was done mostly only on Tibetan Buddha's. Despite the loss of this original surface, due to age, the figure still glows softly with a warm tone bringing out the details. 


Fortunately this piece despite it's size survived without any losses to the fingers, ears, head piece, lotus leaves of base. 
The Lotus plinth or base is slightly recessed to permit the figure to be framed attractively across it's base with the tips overlapping gently and giving the visual impression of the figure being received into the flower petals. 

Below the Lotus blossom is the octagonal balustrade base centered with lapping waves, centered by a post supporting the blossom and figure implying the two parts are floating above the sea. 

The underside of the Lotus blossom is fully articulated in a realistic manner and fitted with a receiving hole for the base's post. 

Thank you for visiting. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us. If you have a fine bronze or other Asian Antiques to sell, we would be pleased to talk with you about them without obligation. 

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