The Missing Buddhas
Chaos reigned in China following the abdication of its Last Emperor in 1912, creating opportunities for dealers to acquire an extraordinary range of antiques and historical objects. Amongst them one group of life-size glazed terracotta monks caused a sensation in the West, being both exquisite and completely unlike anything else ever seen in Chinese art. Sculpted from life, they look not at, but through and beyond the viewer. Museums and collectors around the world competed for them, but who had made them and when? And where had they been hidden before they suddenly emerged into the light? The Missing Buddhas tells their story and unravels the question of their origins. For the past century, scholars, curators and connoisseurs, have been mesmerized by the myth created by a German dealer that they were hidden in inaccessible caves southwest of Beijing to save them from barbarian invaders. But Tony Miller takes a scalpel to this tall tale and both debunks the myth and discovers their true history. In doing so, he opens a window on a fascinating period in Chinese history and introduces an extraordinary cast of characters as he leads the reader clue by clue to the real provenance of these beautiful enigmas.