Buddha

A work made of limestone with traces of polychromy.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of limestone with traces of polychromy.

Date:

Tang dynasty (A.D. 618–907), c. 725/50

Artist:

China

About this artwork

Following its introduction from India centuries earlier, Buddhism flourished in China under the powerfully cosmopolitan Tang dynasty. Characteristic of Tang style in its robust, tapered physique, this monumental figure exhibits iconographic features distinctive to the Buddha: tightly curled hair covering a cranial mound symbolizes his enlightenment; and a forehead depression that originally held a stone or jewel represents wisdom. The articulated folds of the deity's flowing robe integrate Indian sensuality with a distinctly Tang blend of realism and linear elegance. Capping the deity's right shoulder, this garment discreetly modifies a fully bare-chested style described in Indian monastic texts.

The stepped pedestal rises from a base encircled by lotus petals pure white flowers that rise from muddy water and thereby evoke Buddhist beliefs in purity and the search for enlightenment. Above, musicians encircling the tapered stem evoke an ideal, celestial realm.

Together with two attendant bodhisattvas in the Art Institute collection (1930.84 and 1930.85), this sculpture came to the museum in 1930 with a note of its discovery in a temple known as Cangfosi in northern Hebei province. Neither archaeological nor written records have been located to confirm this reported site. The scale and stone medium of these figures suggest that they were commissioned for a cave temple or shrine—a chamber carved into the face of a mountain or cliff.

On View

Asian Art, Gallery 101

Title

Buddha

Origin

China

Date

618 AD–907 AD

Medium

Limestone with traces of polychromy

Dimensions

H. 219.7 cm (86.5 in.); diam. 111 cm (43.7 in.)

Credit Line

Lucy Maud Buckingham Collection

Reference Number

1930.83

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

Share

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share