A wooden sculpture of the supreme Buddha sold for more than 14.3 million dollars in New York on Tuesday, far exceeding pre-sale estimates and setting a new record for a work of Japanese art.
The 800-year-old depiction of the Dainichi Nyorai, attributed to the sculptor Unkei, was bought by the Japanese department store chain Mitsukoshi, shattering the pre-sale estimates for the work of 1.5 to 2.5 million dollars.
The record price “is a testament to the extreme importance and beauty of this supreme Buddha, and elevates Japanese art to a new record level,” said Katsura Yamaguchi, Christie’s director of Japanese and Korean Art.
The seated figure of the supreme Buddha of the esoteric pantheon is made out of Cypress wood and was described by Christie’s as being in fine condition.
The artist, believed to be Unkei, was one of the greatest carvers of the early Kamakura period and received the title of “hoin,” the highest rank an artist could achieve.
The statue is believed to have come from a temple, later becoming part of a prominent family collection. However, its existence was unknown to wider circles until it was later sold to a Buddhist dealer and bought by the seller.
The figure contains three dedicatory objects sealed inside the torso including two five-stage pagodas, one in wood and one in crystal, as well as a crystal ball supported by a bronze stand. Via AFP