An auction of Asian and international fine art saw a Chinese soapstone model of a lohan exceed expectations on Sunday, May 6.
The lohan, according to Buddhist tradition, were 18 monks that attained enlightenment and were subject to no more rebirths or karma while on Earth. They were known for their great wisdom, courage and strength and are said to protect Buddhist temples to this day.
This model, intricately carved from soapstone, depicts one of the lohan grinning while holding a peach. The figure was expected to see bids in the region of $800-1,200, but rocketed past estimates to an impressive $10,000. Achieving an increase of 733.3% against its estimate, the piece provided one of the most exciting sales of the auction.
Also excelling in the sale was a pair of pink porcelain cups from the end of the Yongzheng period (1722-1735). Simplistic and surprisingly modern in appearance, the wine cups sold for $11,000 against an estimate of $2,000-3,000.
A multicolour vase in the shape of a tree trunk, complete with various birds and deer, stood out as one of the most intriguing items in the sale. Carved from vibrant green and lavender jadeite, the elaborate piece made $9,000.
A superb pair of carved hardwood armchairs with a side table were expected to make just $2,000-3,000 but once again exceeded expectations at $8,500. Featuring the lingzhi fungus design, the stately chairs were inset with ornate slabs of marble at the centre.
Chinese art auctions continue to grow in strength, with China's market up 64% in 2011, according to the European Fine Art foundation.
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