On The Square

Inviting Buddha In

By Bidsquare

Aug 19,2016 | 10:00 EDT

Since their first forays to the exotic East, Westerners have had an almost endless fascination with the Buddha. Whether searching for spiritual enlightenment, a change in fortune or a new direction in décor, the allure of the cross-legged figure has proved irresistible. He is the rock star of new age spiritualism and the pacifists prince.


So who was the Buddha? Well, Gautama Buddha, also known as Siddhārtha Gautama or Shakyamuni Buddha, was an ascetic and sage who lived around 400 B.C., upon whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is recognized by Buddhists as an enlightened or divine teacher who attained full Buddhahood, who shared his insights to help sentient beings end rebirth and suffering.

From a design aesthetic, the Buddha figure has always been admired for its elegance and the presence it brings to spaces, both indoors and out. Good renderings are always in strong demand, and for collectors that means circling Sunday, August 28 boldly on their calendars. For its then that Ahlers & Ogletree will sell three Buddhist figures during Session 2 of their Summer Collections & Estates Auction, all exquisite pieces and each different from the other.

Lot 883 (above) looms as one of the real stars of the sale. A large Qing Dynasty gilt bronze Gautama Buddha dating back to 19th Century Tibet, it depicts the Shakyamuni Buddha seated in dysanasana atop a double lotus throne. The right hand is portrayed here in vitarka, the mystic gesture Bodhisattvas used when explaining Buddhas teachings, while the left hand is in avakasha, the gesture of leisure.

Lot 884 is also a bronze Qing Dynasty depiction of the Shakyamuni Buddha, though not as large and with different hand placements. He does however, have the same downcast contemplative eyes and serene face flanked by pendulous pierced earlobes under knotted hair tied high into a chignon, here painted cold blue.

Lot 884 and Lot 882 both date back to the 19th Century

The third of the figures is noticeably differently from its two companions. Also 19th Century Qing Dynasty, Lot 882 is a bronze patinated copper alloy figure of Damo or Bodhidharma, the Indian founder of Zen Buddhism and the first Chinese patriarch. The bearded male Buddha is depicted seated in dhyanasana wearing ornately folded and floral chased loose robes open at the chest and draped around shoulders. 

Ahlers & Ogletree Auction Gallery’s Summer Collections & Estates Auction is set down for August 27 & 28 and contains over 1,100 lots.