Following on from their celebrated recent auction, Pax Romana are pleased to announce that on the 8th November they are holding their Masterpieces in Ancient Asian Art Auction. The pieces in this transport you through five thousand of years of history and across more than 7000km of Asia. From Han Dynasty China through to the Seljuk Empire and other Western Asiatic Civilisations.
The 196 lot catalogue has been carefully curated by the director Dr Ivan Bonchev. Each item has a considerable provenance on the European art market and is of high quality. To help you navigate this magnificent catalogue, we’re going to share with you our auction highlights. However, it’s important to remember each lot holds its own unique story.
To start is one of the largest items in our sale. Dating from Northern Qi Dynasty China and at nearly a metre tall, lot 13 is an exquisite body of a standing Buddha. Without hands and a head, that would have originally been made of precious metals, the statue has a commanding presence. The robe of the figure has been elegantly carved, with the cream coloured stone appearing like light fabric. Such an item in such a condition is a rare find. Similar examples can be found in the Royal Ontario Museum, like this Amitabha Buddha or another that can be seen on page 163 of their Homage to Heaven, Homage to Earth volume. Perhaps more excitingly, a similar example was sold at Christie’s for €101,575. The estimate that lot had is quite similar to ours, with ours being estimated at £20,000 – £40,000.
Dating from the slightly later Tang Dynasty, the next lot we want to highlight is a large ceramic Bactrian camel crafted with a rider seated on top. The domestication of camels in this period was crucial to the traffic of goods and ideas on the silk road, especially in the deserts of Central Asia. A lot of respect was held for these animals and what they facilitated, and the craftsmanship of this piece reflects that. The stability of the Tang Dynasty allowed for the reopening of this cross-continent trade that had been closed in the previous periods of disunification. Again, a similar example can be found in a Christie’s sale – if with a younger rider – that sold this time for 6,100,00- HKD. Our Camel, that is lot 3 in the auction, is estimated at £6,000 – £12,000.
ANCIENT CHINESE BRONZE VESSELS
For our next highlight, we’re still celebrating Ancient China with our selection of Ancient Bronze Vessels. All XRF tested by an independent Belgium laboratory, they are shown to be over 3,000 years old. Made during either the Shang or Western Zhou dynasty, the vessels were likely used for ceremonial religious purposes. Bronzes such as these are key to Chinese history, for example the National Palace Museum in Tapei has a collection of pieces that are similar to ours. The estimates for these lots vary. For example, the you ritual wine vessel in lot 7 is estimated at £10,000 – £20,000 and the broad, shallow ritual Gui of lot 21 at £20,000 – £40,000.
Moving south from China and towards modern day India we have beautiful pieces coming from the ancient Gandharan civilisations. The first schist figure that we want to highlight as being particularly unusual is lot 38 – the Gandharan statue of Hercules. Firstly, Hercules is depicted with wings – perhaps in order to link him to the Titan Atlas. Secondly, Hercules is a Classical figure and the choice to sculpt him shows the meeting of cultures that happened in the Peshawar basin in this period. In excellent condition, this piece has an estimate of £6,000 – £12,000.
Another Gandharan piece is perhaps more typical in its design but is remarkable in its life-sized dimensions. Depicting a Bodhisattva, or person who has reached Nirvana, the head has a Ushnisha top knot and a delicate moustache. With a rough back, it is likely that this head was used in an architectural context – either religiously or domestically. It was produced during the Kushan Period, this being seen as a great period for prosperity and art in the region. It is said by some that the strength in these heads and the design demonstrated what made this Gandharan civilisation so unique. Their historical significance of these pieces is widely noted. Indeed a similar Gandharan Bodhisattva head was included in the BBC’s history of the world in 100 objects. The estimate for this lot is £6,000 – £12,000.
INDUS RIVER VALLEY
In a similar region to the Gandahra but three thousand years earlier there was the Indus River Valley civilisation. Pottery from the Indus River Valley is always highly prized. As an extremely early and well-developed society it left us very few records. Therefore, the pottery is a unique way to glance at this ancient people. At Pax Romana we have sold pieces of Indus River Valley pottery before but lot 55 is particularly spectacular. Very large in style it beautifully depicts a zebu bull. This is possibly due to the animal’s importance in religious ceremony. The estimate for this well preserved lot is £1,000 to £2,000.
Finally, turning our head to the 12th Century AD in modern-day Iraq, Iran and Turkmenistan we find the Seljuk empire. They were extremely powerful and big connoisseurs of art and architecture. Lot 139 is a bronze bowl with a beautiful patina. It perfectly demonstrates the attention to detail that was central to their artistic practices. Its delicate geometric design centred around a delicate six-pointed star would have made this piece ideal for luxurious dining. Immediately eye catching, this piece has an estimate of £1,000 -£2,000.
This article shows only a small proportion of the many stunning pieces the Asian art auction has to offer. In order to discover the catalogue and register to bid, please visit our website. We provide world-wide in-house shipping and a dedicated team of experts who are there to guide you through the entire auction process. The live bidding for these items will begin at 2pm BST on 8th November 2020. So we’ll see you there!