Dear Chatelaine's Antiques, I bought a "Thinking Buddha" at a large estate sale. I'm unable to find any
information about it. Is this a rare piece? I'm unsure of the exact age.
It is carved marble, weighs 20 pounds, and stands 20 inches tall. What's
interesting about this piece is that he wears a crown that bears a cross.
Isn't this somewhat odd for a Buddha? — R.P
It is odd for a Buddha to wear a crown, but
your statue isn't a figure of a Buddha. It's a Chinese figure of a
Bodhisattva, wearing layered ankle-length robes. A Bodhisattva is one
whose essence has become intelligence and will become a Buddha after
Your sculpture is a 20th-century piece, similar to
examples made during the Northern Qi (pronounced chee) dynasty (550-577
You can tell it's not ancient, because it has very little wear.
Most ancient sculptures are chipped or broken.
The large head,
closed eyes and hand gestures are all correct for this type of figure, and
he's supposed to wear a crown — the cross, as a Western motif, was
included for decorative purposes only. But although many of the features
are correctly formed, during the Northern Qi dynasty a Bodhisattva's
garments would have been carved in a much simpler style.
During the Northern Qi
dynsasty, sculptors used stone, marble, wood, and bronze.
Their work is usually worth $60,000-$100,000 today. Your sculpture is worth around $1,000 for it's decorative value.