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Now, Gandhi's gift to Irish friend to go under hammer

With Mahatma Gandhi memorabilia doing well at a recent Sotheby's auction, a bronze statue of a seated Buddhist deity presented by him to his Irish friend Emma Harker will now go on sale here on September 8.

world Updated: Jul 19, 2009 12:48 IST

With Mahatma Gandhi memorabilia doing well at a recent Sotheby's auction, a bronze statue of a seated Buddhist deity presented by him to his Irish friend Emma Harker will now go on sale here on September 8.

The 13-inch-high figure, possibly of the Bodhisattva of compassion Avalokitesvara, is estimated to sell for 3,000-5,000 pounds at Bonhams sale of Asian Art.

On July 14, three of Gandhi's autographed letters sold for 4,750 pounds while a signed khadi cloth which was said to have been woven by him went under the hammer for 2,125 pounds.

Emma went to India to stay with her daughter whose husband was in the Civil Service there. It was through that influential connection that she became close friends with senior Hindu and Muslim politicians, particularly Sarojini Naidu who accompanied Gandhi in his famous Dandi salt march.

A letter from Gandhi to Emma, dated September 19, 1934 suggests she volunteered to assist with relief work among the poor in flooded areas of Bihar and Orissa. It may have been on an appropriate occasion, such as this, that Gandhi presented Emma with the Buddhist figure, the auction house said.

"Emma Harker who died in 1957 knew Gandhi well, corresponding with him over a number of years, and on one occasion introduced her granddaughter, the owner of this sculpture now, to him," said James Hammond, head of Asian Art at Bonhams.