On The Square

The Moke Mokotoff Collection of Asian Art at Stair

By Anthony Wu

Oct 04,2023 | 09:00 EDT

One of the most exciting collections of Asian art will be offered through Bidsquare at Stair, Hudson NY, on October 5. Titled ‘Asian Works of Art’ this sale features just over 200 lots with the majority originating from China, the Himalayan region, India and Japan.

Many collectors have been anticipating this auction for weeks. Of particular interest are approximately thirty objects from the Moke Mokotoff Collection. John ‘Moke’ Mokotoff (1950-2022) was a New York dealer of East Asian art who specialized in Chinese and Indian textiles. He was also a devout practitioner and teacher of Buddhism, and for over forty years acquired hundreds of objects from the Himalayan region. Many pieces from his collection were recently offered at Christie’s New York in September of 2023. 

At Stair, one of the most attractive lots from the Mokotoff Collection is lot 59, a large Tibetan embroidered fragment of Vajrakilaya. Vajrakilaya is the wrathful form of the Buddhist bodhisattva Vajrasattva. Bodhisattvas are enlightened Buddhist deities who chose to remain in the earthly realm to ease humanity’s sufferings.

Vajrakilaya is depicted in yab-yum which is the sacred union between male and female. He is an enforcer of those who oppose compassion, and is a master of removing material obstacles.

This textile fragment is particularly well-detailed and features bold colors in the wrathful deity’s depiction. The estimate is a conservative at $800-$1,200. 

Another choice Asian object at Stair from the Mokotoff Collection is lot 36, a large Indian sandstone relief of Shiva. Shiva is the Hindu supreme lord - one who can be a compassionate protector and also the ultimate destroyer. 

In this well-carved relief frieze, he is seated on a throne with his signature attributes and flanked by female attendants. Each of the figures are dynamic and detailed. This sandstone carving is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.

Lot 80 is another highlight from the Moke Mokotoff Collection. Described as a large Chinese polychromed wood figure of the Water Moon Guanyin. This elegant sculpture pays homage to examples from the Chinese Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) and depicts the Buddhist bodhisattva of mercy seated with right knee raised, and left leg seated across the body. 

The simple robes flow naturally on the deity’s body, and the face invokes compassion through the downcast eyes and gentle smile. This figure of Guanyin has a height of 41 inches and features another conservative estimate at $3,000-$5,000. 

In addition to the Mokotoff Collection there are many more Asian art items featured at the Stair auction. Estimated at $1,500-$3,000 is lot 6, a Chinese blue and white moonflask with Qianlong six-character mark. 

The shape and decoration of this flask resembles examples from the 15th Century of Ming Dynasty. It is well-painted with its design of large lotus balls amongst scrolling vines. The handles are sinuous dragons and the flask’s shape is influenced by Middle Eastern metalware transmitted through the Silk Road.  


Click here to view the full catalog of Stair’s sale of Asian Art on October 5.

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Lot 59, Large Tibetan Embroidered Fragment with Vajrakilaya. Estimate $800-$1,200


Lot 36, Large Indian Sandstone Relief of Shiva. Estimate $8,000-$12,000


Lot 80, Large Chinese Polychromed Wood Figure of Water Moon Guanyin. Estimate $3,000-$5,000 


Lot 6, Chinese Blue and White Porcelain Moon Flask. Estimate $1,500-$3,000