A Pair of Early Ming Dynasty Bronze Figures Is Expected to Fetch $11M at Sotheby’s

The sale of the statuettes will benefit the Bodhimanda Foundation.

Two intricate bronze figures
Monumental gilt-bronze figures of Panjarnata Mahakala and Kapaladhara Hevajra. Courtesy Sotheby's

Two of the largest bronze figures created during the early Ming dynasty will soon be offered up by Sotheby's during spring’s Asia Week New York.

Sign Up For Our Daily Newsletter

By clicking submit, you agree to our <a rel="nofollow noreferer" href="http://observermedia.com/terms">terms of service</a> and acknowledge we may use your information to send you emails, product samples, and promotions on this website and other properties. You can opt out anytime.

See all of our newsletters

Depicting guardian deity Panjarnata Mahakala and meditational deity Hevajra, the works will headline the auction house’s upcoming Asian art sales in the two-lot sale Wrathful Deities: Masterworks from the Bodhimanda Foundation. Both figures were likely commissioned for Chinese shrines and are an exception example of the influence of Vajrayana Buddhism on emperors of the early Ming dynasty.

SEE ALSO: Sotheby’s Revamps Its Auction Fees, Reducing Buyer Premiums

“We are honored to offer these superlative gilt-bronze masterpieces to commence our annual March Asian Art auction series,” said Julian King, an international specialist and head of sale in Himalayan Art for Sotheby’s New York, in a statement. “Both are of superb quality and endowed with truly adamantine power.”

The figure of Hevajra measures more than two feet tall and has an estimate of between $3 million to $5 million. Meanwhile, the figure of Panjarnata Mahakala is several inches taller and is by far the largest early Ming dynasty bronze in private hands. It is expected to sell for between $4 million and $6 million.

The sale of the imperial gilt-bronze figures will benefit the Bodhimanda Foundation

The early 15th-century works were in a private European collection before they were gifted in 2011 to the Bodhimanda Foundation, an organization focused on spreading knowledge about the culture of esoteric Buddhism through research, publications, lectures and the display of artwork. The figures are the largest and most important Chinese works of art in the nonprofit’s Buddhist art collection.

All proceeds from the Sotheby’s sale will benefit the Bodhimanda Foundation’s goal to place its collection in a permanent museum display. “We are privileged to have been selected by the Bodhimanda Foundation to find a new home for these two masterpieces, thereby raising funds to house their collection in a new home,” said King.

The two bronze figures were most recently displayed together between 2011 and 2020 at the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The figure of Hevajra was also exhibited in 2012 at London’s Royal Academy of Arts.

Ahead of the live sale on March 19, the statuettes will be on view between February 5 through 7 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong before being included in a public exhibition at Sotheby’s New York that will open on March 14. More highlights from the auction house’s upcoming March Asian Art sales will be announced closer to the date.

A Pair of Early Ming Dynasty Bronze Figures Is Expected to Fetch $11M at Sotheby’s