New Auction Record for A Buddhist Manuscript
At Sotheby’s Hong Kong This Morning TWO WORKS SOLD FOR OVER HK$200 MILLION / US$25.6 MILLION EACH ONE WORK SOLD FOR OVER HK$100 MILLION / US$12.8 MILLION **************** Two Sets of Ming Dynasty Imperial Sutras Achieve HK$239 Million / US$30.4 Million / £21.7 Million
Hong Kong, 3 April 2018 – Today at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, a new auction record was established for two sets of Buddhist Sutra Manuscripts from the Ming Dynasty. The most important Buddhist manuscript ever to have appeared at auction, the Imperial Wisdom Sutras sold for HK$238,807,500 / US$30,428,852 / £21,656,005. This outstanding historical relic is a legacy of the Golden Age of the Ming dynasty, made by imperial order of the Ming Emperor Xuande in the first part of the 15th century. Preserved in pristine condition, the set of Sutras is the only surviving example outside of the National Palace Museum, Taipei. Originally recorded in a Kyoto aristocratic collection in 1917, they remained out of sight until the ground-breaking Ming exhibition at the British Museum in 2014. Buddhist Sutras are canonical scriptures that render the teachings of the Buddha, which were taken over from India and copied. Their copying and propagation was considered a meritorious practice, and when such deeds were performed by an emperor, the resulting works were inevitably of the highest standard in terms of the materials used and the artists and craftsmen employed. The Sutras comprise ten extraordinarily high quality albums of the Prajnaparamita Sutra [Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom], handwritten and illustrated in gold ink on indigo-coloured paper which has been treated on the upper side to obtain a shiny black, lacquer-like surface.
A magnificent enamelled pink-ground ‘falangcai’ bowl, without question the finest example of its type and the only example of its design ever recorded, also achieved the exceptional price of HK$238,807,500 / US$30,428,852 / £21,656,005. Unseen on the market for over 30 years, the bowl is unique, though it has a ‘brother’ in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, which is painted with different flowers but using the exact same colour ground. The bowl was thrown and fired at the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen and painted at the imperial workshops beyond the walls of the Forbidden City in Beijing, for the Kangxi Emperor’s personal use.
Making its auction debut after a hundred years, a highly important rediscovered handscroll, Ten Auspicious Landscapes of Taishan, the greatest masterpiece of the renowned imperial court painter Qian Weicheng drew over 100 separate bids during a 40 minute bidding battle, pushing the final sale price to HK$146,794,000 / US$18,704,491 / £13,311,858. Presented in ten sections, the scroll depicts ten spectacular views of Mount Tiantai in Zhejiang province and is also inscribed with ten poems written by the Qianlong Emperor.