The Wei emperors are great protectors of Buddhism, practiced in hundreds of luxurious temples in and around their capital Luoyang. The altar figures must be perfect. The appreciation of the considerable expansion of Buddhist art under the Wei is linked to the discovery in 1996 of the treasure of Qingzhou, 400 statues hidden under the Song in order to stop the growth of that religion.
On September 16 in New York, Sotheby's sells an antique limestone figure of Buddha 97 cm high, probably made in the transition between the Northern Wei and the Eastern Wei 1480 years ago. This undamaged piece in superb condition is estimated $ 800K, lot 422.
Buddha standing on the lotus expresses peace and happiness through his serene smile, his half closed eyes and his raised right hand while the left hand gives a blessing. His ushnisha is a hair bun and not a bulging flesh, confirming that the main message from this figure is not wisdom.
It was carved in the round before a leaf shaped mandorla that allowed the artist to position behind his head an aureole embellished with radiant patterns, accentuating the mystical splendor.