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Dim.: 170,5 x 111,5 cm (the frame)
Dim.: 160 x 101 cm (the work incl. visible mount on the inside of the frame)
Provenance: Acquired from Kunsthandel Aalderink, Amsterdam, in 1987, for 15.000 Dutch Guilders. (original invoice present)
Inscribed on the lower left: 'By imperial order, directed and supervised by the senior eunuchs of the Directorate of the Imperial Household Service, Shang Yi, Wang Qin, and others.' (御用監太監尚義王勤等奉命提督監造)
Inscribed on the upper right corner: Offered on the third day of the eighth month, the fifth year of Jingtai (1454) of the Great Ming Dynasty. The seal reads: Guang yun zhi bao (The Treasure of Grand Destiny). 大明景泰五年八月初三日施 [印] 廣運之寳
Inscribed middle right: Gautama Buddha.
The current painting was part of an imperial order by the Jingtai emperor, born Zhu Qiyu. He was the seventh Emperor of the Ming dynasty and reigned from 1449 to 1457.
The order pertained to the Water-Land (shuilu) ritual. It is the grandest of the Buddhist mortuary rites. This esoteric ceremony is conducted for the salvation of 'all souls of the dead on land and sea.' The ostentatious ritual was performed for imperial ancestors and high officials from the Song (960–1279) to the Ming dynasties and drew large crowds. On the second day of the weeklong ceremony, paintings are hung in the inner altar. It is said that the entire order consisted of 36 works. Given the subject, one can assume that this is one of the focal works of this series
Other works from this series in museum collections:
- The Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, USA) has two works from the series, depicting 'The Bodhisattvas of the Ten Stages in Attaining the Most Perfect Knowledge' (link) and 'The Eight Hosts of Deva, Naga, and Yakshi' (link).
- The Metropolitan Museum (New York, USA) has one work from the series, depicting 'Star deities of the northern and central dippers' (link).
- The Musée Guimet (Paris, France) has eleven works from this series. (link)
Other sold works from this series:
- Tarbes, France, 18 April 2010, for a work depicting 'Four Luohan' (link).
- Christie's, Hong Kong, 30 Nov. 2015, lot 836.