Manual Ref* NFklSA003 Show 6 images 541

The Chinese Joss ('John Chinaman')

County Norfolk   District Council King's Lynn 
Civil Parish or equivalent Sandringham  Town/Village* Sandringham 
Road Sandringham Road 
Precise Location Gardens of Sandringham House 
OS Grid Ref TF695290  Postcode PE35 
Previous location(s) Peking 
Setting At the end of a tree-lined walk in sight of the House. The wooden pagoda that used to cover the Buddha is now gone  Access Private 
Artist/Maker Role Qualifier
Yen-Ling-Yin  Foundry worker(s)  and 
Ling-Sun  Foundry worker(s)   

Commissioned by

Unknown (acquired for the Prince of Wales by Admiral Sir Henry Keppel who purchased the figure in 1869) 

Design & Constrn period


Date of installing


Exact date of unveiling



Abstract Animal Architectural
Commercial Commemorative Composite
Free Functional Funerary
Heraldic Military Natural
Non-Commemorative Performance Portable
Religious Roadside, Wayside Sculptural
Temporary, Mobile Other  

Object Type

Building Clock Tower Architectural
Coat of Arms Cross Fountain
Landscape Marker Medallion
Mural Panel Readymade
Relief Shaft Sculpture
Statue Street Furniture War Memorial
Other Object Sub Type: Buddha

Subject Type

Allegorical Mythological Pictorial
Figurative Non-figurative Portrait
Still-life Symbolic Other

Subject Sub Type

Bust Equestrian Full-length
Group Head Reclining
Seated Standing Torso
Part Material Dimension
Figure  Gilded bronze  H 123 cm x W 129 cm x D 112 cm 
Plinth  White granite  H 93 cm x W 197 cm x D 185 cm 
Lions  Pink granite  H 152 cm x L 90 cm x W 410 cm 

Work is

Extant Not Sited Lost


Sandringham Estate 

Listing status

Grade I Grade II* Grade II Don't Know Not Listed

Surface Condition

Corrosion, Deterioration Accretions
Bird Guano Abrasions, cracks, splits
Biological growth Spalling, crumbling
Metallic staining Previous treatments
Detail: The gilding is badly worn and scratched

Structural Condition

Armature exposed Broken or missing parts
Replaced parts Loose elements
Cracks, splits, breaks, holes Spalling, crumbling
Water collection Other


Graffiti Structural damage Surface Damage

Overall condition

Good Fair Poor


No Known Risk At Risk Immediate
Signatures/Marks Rear inscription in mandarin, trans.: Cast by the Buddhist Priests Yen-Ling-Yin and Ling-Sun in the presence of many others 
Inscriptions Front inscription in mandarin, trans.: Respectfully made in the fortunate dawn of this mid winter month in the cyclical year of the Reign of Emperor Kang He 

Description (physical)

Extraordinarily fine bronze, with expressive detail in the cushion, the ribbon of the seated Buddha's coronet and the rendering of the fingers and toes. The Maitreya Bodhisattva wears a five-pointed coronet and holds prayer beads. The cushion on which he sits is decorated with young children playing within a stylised plant. The sculpture is mounted on a granite plinth carved in oriental style raised on a stepped base and is flanked by two chinese lions 

Description (iconographical)

The sculpture would probably have been cast for the entrance hall of a temple and represents in all likelihood The chaplet of beads and left hand gesture indicate that he is praying. The right foot placed on the ground suggests that he is Maitreya Bodhisattva, a future ruler to enter the world when Buddhism ends, his future arrival suggested by his grounded foot suggesting. The motif of the playing children has its roots Roman sarcophagi, where they play happily among vines. Here they illustrate the prosperity of the Bodhisattva's reign. The lions are guardian lions (a.k.a. Fu Dogs). The choice of subject would have been extremely suitable for the Prince of Wales, the future King of England, if Sir Henry Keppel, commander-in-chief of the China station, had been aware of it when he purchased it for Sandringham. It was laid out in the gardens before work had begun on the house. 


Date taken:  30/5/2007
Date logged:  4/6/2007

Photographed by:
David Hulks

On Site Inspection

Date:  30/5/2007

Inspected by:
David Hulks

Sources and References

Private communication with the Estate's Public Enterprises Secretary 7-Jun-07 / HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and G. Pattinson et al. (1996) Sandringham: The Norfolk Retreat of the Queen, English Life Publications / accessed 8-Jun-07 / accessed 8-Jun-07 


Date entered:  8/6/2007

Data inputter:
David Hulks