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Chatelaine's Antiques & Appraisals Magazine > Asian Works of Art > Our Opinion: Thinking Buddha or Not?



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Thinking Buddha or Not?
 
 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
Dear 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 reincarnation.

 Your sculpture is a 20th-century piece, similar to examples made during the Northern Qi (pronounced chee) dynasty (550-577 A.D.).

 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.

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