A small soapstone figure of a grinning, reclining Buddha.

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It was knocked down on February 27 to a bidder in Hong Kong.

Good-quality 19th century handling pieces, and the best soapstone carvings in particular, continue to appeal to a Far Eastern audience at remarkable price levels.

This example, measuring 4in (9cm), came on its original hardwood stand. “It is a beautiful little piece but we were absolutely amazed by the result,” said auctioneer David Elstob.

Other high-performing Chinese lots in the sale included a red coral carving of a young woman which sold just above its guide for £3200 and blue and white ‘kylin’ jar sold for £2600 (estimate £400-600).