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China, room 44, case 34
This embroidered picture depicts the Buddha Maitreya (the Buddha of the Future), who awaits his time to appear to deliver all sentient beings from suffering.
Maitreya is posed with the Dharmachakra Mudra (hand gesture), which is a gesture of teaching, and also interpreted as turning the Wheel of Dharma (the Law).
During the 18th century the Qing court was devoted to Buddhism, which took the form of Tibetan Lamaism, as religious links with Tibet were strong. An inscription on the back written in Chinese, Tibetan, Manchu and Mongol (four of the principal languages of the Qing Dynasty, 1644 - 1911) indicates that this scroll was an imperial gift to a Tibetan dignitary by the name of Ngag-dbang dPalrbyor.
Lamaist banner panel of embroidered silk. The Buddha of the Future (Maitreya) is depicted in the centre of this banner in a red robe, seated cross-legged upon a lotus with a mandorla behind of blue and yellow. Before the Buddha is an altar draped in red and two genii, one white, one blue, also within mandorlas. The figures are in a landscape setting with a blue sky and clouds behind. The entire scene is embroidered in red, blue, green, yellow, pink and white silks and gilt thread in satin stitch and couched work.
The picture is framed within a red border with a repeated character woven in gold thread. There is a second border of green and gold tissue with a small floral pattern. The banner is backed with yellow silk, with an inscribed label attached. It is mounted on a roller with metal ends and fastened with two lengths of tablet woven braid.
Place of Origin
Materials and Techniques
Marks and inscriptions
In the 42nd year of the Emperor Qianlong, on the 3rd of the 4th moon, an Imperial decree was issued ordering the Kutuko Fu of Awanpechul to search for an embroidered scroll of Buddha (worshipped until such time as the Milah Buddha begins his reign) for sacrificial purposes. The image is known in Tibetan as a Sakatapa, in Manchu as Sakamonifuchi Pu, in Mongolian as Shakameininuddha.
Height: 76.2 cm, Width: 52.1 cm
Object history note
The inscription also tells us that the banner was an imperial gift to a Tibetan dignitary called Ngag-dBang dPalrbyor.
Historical context note
This may have been part of a set of religious hangings. A scroll which may be from the same set is in the Chester Beatty Collection, Dublin.
Buddhist banner panel of embroidered silk, China, 1777
Religions, Buddhism; Buddha, Maitreya
Textiles; Embroidery; Buddhism