Shopping For Buddhas In New York
The Buddha Purchased Today
Wow. Simply wow. The New York Times reports that today Christie's auctioned a 12th century Japanese wooden Buddha for more than $14 million US Dollars:
A newly discovered wood sculpture of a Buddha has sold for $14.3 million, a price the auctioneer calls a world record for any Japanese work of art.
Christie's said the seated figure of Dainichi Nyorai, or the supreme Buddha, is attributed to 13th-century sculptor Unkei, considered one of the greatest carvers of the early Kamakura period (1190s).
The work was sold in New York on Tuesday to Mitsukoshi Ltd., one of Japan's major department stores. Its presale estimate was $1.5 million to $2 million.
This positively dwarfs Jeff Greenwald's efforts to buy the perfect Buddha in Kathmandu, recorded in his 1990 book Shopping For Buddhas. It makes my $400 expenditure for a beautiful Buddha in Kathmandu, which I then lugged all over India in a backpack, seem a mere pittance. Regardless, I still do love that Buddha, and it still occupies a proud spot in my collection of more than 2 dozen Buddhas. The Buddha purchased today, however, is in another league entirely.
The details, according to AFP:
The seated figure of the supreme Buddha of the esoteric pantheon is made out of Cypress wood and was described by Christie's as being in fine condition.Later I may meditate on my obviously materialistic cravings for possession of this Buddha and how such cravings cause suffering. Right now, though, I have to admit that it would be the crowning piece in almost any collection, especially mine. The only collection, however, worthy of containing it, in my opinion, is one I saw more than a decade ago in the Sydney. That collection started my own buying and collecting frenzy.
The artist, believed to be Unkei, was one of the greatest carvers of the early Kamakura period and received the title of "hoin," the highest rank an artist could achieve.
The statue is believed to have come from a temple, later becoming part of a prominent family collection. However, its existence was unknown to wider circles until it was later sold to a Buddhist dealer and bought by the seller.
The figure contains three dedicatory objects sealed inside the torso including two five-stage pagodas, one in wood and one in crystal, as well as a crystal ball supported by a bronze stand.