Buddha thumbnail 1
Buddha thumbnail 2
+4
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Buddhism, Room 47f, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Galleries of Buddhist Art

Buddha

Figure of Buddha
550-577 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The simple clothing worn by this Buddha echoes the modest robes worn by the historical Buddha when he reached enlightenment after an intense period of meditation. Behind the figure is an ornate halo or aureole, decorated with flowers and an inner ring of lotus petals. The symmetrical composition of the sculpture intensifies the calmness reflected in the Buddha's face. Traces of red, black and green pigment on the head hint at the brightly coloured surface of the figure in earlier times.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Limestone, with traces of gesso, paint and gilding
Brief Description
Seated Buddha, limestone, with traces of gesso, paint and gilding, North China, possibly 550-577 (Northern Qi dynasty).
Physical Description
Seated Buddha carved in dark grey limestone with traces of red and green pigment. The Buddha has a serene face, closed mouth, and a flat back. His thumbs have broken off. He has a large halo decorated with flora and an inner ring of lotus petals. The folds of the Buddha's robes are inlaid into the stone. He is sitting on a rectangular slab, integral to the sculpture. The Buddha has one hand raised in a gesture of fearlessness (abhaya mudra) and one palm open in a gesture of gift giving (verada mudra).
Dimensions
  • Height: 119cm
  • Width: 58cm
  • Depth: 30cm
  • Weight: 290kg
Style
Production typeUnique
Gallery Label
  • Seated Buddha 550–77 Probably Northern Qi dynasty Xiangtangshan, Hebei, China Limestone with traces of gesso, paint and gilding The Buddha’s halo is formed of concentric bands of stylised lotus petals and powerful floral scroll, separated by rings. This halo design, together with the distinctive drapery that extends over the pedestal, suggests that the figure comes from a cave-temple complex at Xiangtangshan, south of Beijing. Traces of pigment on the head show that it was originally brightly coloured. Purchased with help from The Art Fund and private donors Museum no. A.4-1924(1/4/2009)
  • Buddha Shakyamuni AD 550–577 Northern Qi dynasty This Buddha has an ornate halo decorated with flowers and an inner ring of lotus petals. Traces of paint show that the figure was once brightly coloured. The style of the decoration and drapery suggests that the figure probably came from the cave temple complex at Xiangtangshan in northern China. These features, together with the delicately carved, rounded face, show a masterful Chinese interpretation of the Indian Gupta dynasty style. Possibly from Xiangtangshan, Hebei Province, North China Limestone with traces of gesso, paint and gilding Purchased with help from the Art Fund and private donors Museum no. A.4-1924 北齐 描金加彩石佛坐像 (原置河北响堂山)(03/08/2015)
Credit line
Purchased with help from Art Fund and private donors
Object history
This figure has traces of paint, gesso and gilt. Most sculpture in ancient China is coloured, and it is said that, although much of the techniques have not been handed down, 30 per cent of the work on a sculpture was devoted to carving, and 70 per cent to painting.



This object is included in the Xiangtangshan project, an international initiative based at the University of Chicago (2006) which aims to build up a digital reconstruction of this Northern Qi cave complex. See http://xts.uchicago.edu/introduction/ However, it is not certain that this object did once form part of these caves. Some argue that it is a later piece.
Production
Katherine Tsiang Mino of the University of Chicago (2007) has expressed the view that this object is of Northern Qi date (550-577 AD) and that its original site was North Xiangtangshan, North Cave.



Others have assigned a later date, but Dr Mino's research into the Xiangtangshan caves was followed when describing the sculpture for the Ho Family Foundation Gallery, 2009.
Subjects depicted
Summary
The simple clothing worn by this Buddha echoes the modest robes worn by the historical Buddha when he reached enlightenment after an intense period of meditation. Behind the figure is an ornate halo or aureole, decorated with flowers and an inner ring of lotus petals. The symmetrical composition of the sculpture intensifies the calmness reflected in the Buddha's face. Traces of red, black and green pigment on the head hint at the brightly coloured surface of the figure in earlier times.
Bibliographic References
  • Ashton, 'A Chinese statue in the V&A Museum' Burlington Magazine, XLV, 1924, p.72 Siren, O. 'Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteenth Century', 1925, # 285 Clarke, John: Arts of Asia, vol. 45, no. 5, September - October 2015, "The Buddha image in Asia: Phase One of the Robert H. N.Ho Family Foundation Galleries of Buddhist Art", p.115, pl. 4.
  • O. Siren, Chinese Sculpture (7 Vols), 1925, p.77; Plate 285.
  • Orientations; vol. 40. no. 4; May 2009; The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum. Lukas Nickel; Faith and Beauty. Chinese Buddhist Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum, p. 52
  • Orientations; vol. 40. no. 4; May 2009; The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum. Lukas Nickel; Faith and Beauty. Chinese Buddhist Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum, p. 52
Collection
Accession Number
A.4-1924

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record createdDecember 18, 2006
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