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    18th-Century Sino-Tibetan Bronze Figure

    Appraised Value:

    $5,000 - $8,000

    Appraised on: August 9, 2008

    Appraised in: Grand Rapids, Michigan

    Appraised by: Lark Mason

    Category: Asian Arts

    Episode Info: Grand Rapids, Hour 2 (#1314)

    Originally Aired: April 27, 2009

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 2 Next 

    More Like This:

    Form: Figure
    Material: Bronze
    Period / Style: 18th Century
    Value Range: $5,000 - $8,000

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    Appraisal Video: (3:32)


    Appraised By:

    Lark Mason
    Asian Arts
    Lark Mason & Associates

    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: I got this from my father after he passed away about 25 years ago. We had a big corner cupboard where they had a lot of gods, and Buddhas, where he collected them from different parts of the world. I've always been intrigued with this one, and so when it came to splitting up everything, I grabbed this one, plus a couple of other things.

    APPRAISER: The first thing that anybody would notice about this is the fearsome visage. It's really a pretty grimacing, frightening face.

    GUEST: Yes.

    APPRAISER: And that's because this is a guardian, protector figure. It's meant to provide protection for someone. And there's a branch of Buddhism that's sometimes called esoteric Buddhism or tantric Buddhism, where you have a lot of these types of guardian figures. And they have different types of attributes and they have different types of objects that they're associated with. And on this figure, there are several things that are helpful in identifying who he is. And one is right here in the center. This is called the Wheel of Dharma. The other thing that's sort of interesting-- curled around his shoulders and coming around to this side is a snake. Again, something that would offer protection against evil entities. Now, the figure is wearing a dhoti, which is sort of a skirt. And you notice the lines on it?

    GUEST: Yes.

    APPRAISER: And you can see that there's more lines here on the back. It's a tiger skin. So if you were a fearsome protector figure that had been able to dominate a tiger and skin it, you'd be pretty powerful, wouldn't you?

    GUEST: Yes, I would.

    APPRAISER: So, this figure is meant to display the kind of strength and power that would be necessary to protect probably sacred texts...

    GUEST: Right.

    APPRAISER: Buddhist texts. One guardian that comes to mind is called Vajrapani, who is the guardian of secrets and protector of sacred tantric texts. And that's who I think this probably is. And this was, I believe, made in China as something that was intended for the Tibetan audience. So it's what we would call Sino-Tibetan. And the material is bronze with a mercury gilded surface. And it's very finely chased, so it's something that was always of value. It also had something that you pointed out, which is rather interesting. If you look on the inside, there is a roll of paper containing a series of prayers. That was probably put in there when this was last used in any kind of a religious context, which would have been, I would think, late 19th century, before it made its way over here to the West. Now, the only negative is there is some wear on the gilding. We can see that on the leg, up here on the face and on the hands where people have touched it. But it's not excessive and it's very finely cast, so my belief is that this actually dates to the 18th century. And I think that it has a pretty good value. Do you want to venture a guess?

    GUEST: $2,000?

    APPRAISER: It's worth a bit more. I would say, at auction, more like $5,000 to $8,000.

    GUEST: Thank you very much.

    APPRAISER: You're very welcome.

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