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Rare Ming Embroidered Panel at Bonhams Hong Kong

Ming embroidery

Votive embroidery of Vairocana, Early Ming dynasty, late 14th/early 15th century. Estimate £83,000-120,000

A spectacular votive embroidery will go under the hammer at Bonhams Hong Kong on 29 November 2016. The silk and gold foil embroidered panel depicts Vairocana, who with his hands in the gesture of furthering the dharma simultaneously represents the Wisdom Buddha Vairocana and Shakyamuni teaching. The interpretation is dependent on the viewer’s doctrine. Surrounding Vairocana are a mandorla and eight auspicious Buddhist symbols.

The embroidery, executed on a dark blue satin ground, is very skilfully done. A combination of short and long stitches achieves subtle gradations of colour, at times appearing akin to brushwork. The effect is particularly striking in the green and blue sections immediately surrounding Vairocana, whose body appears to emit light.

The textile is part of a set of temple banners given to a leading Tibetan monastery by the Ming court, giving the panel a likely date of late 14th/early 15th century, i.e. early Ming dynasty. Four or five sets of temple banners are known, all now dispersed and incomplete. The similar compositions, techniques and materials have fostered a theory that they come from the same workshop.

Ming embroidery
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