Chinese / Head of a Bodhisattva, Perhaps Mahasthamaprapta / Tang period, early 8th centuryChinese
Head of a Bodhisattva, Perhaps Mahasthamaprapta
Tang period, early 8th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Name-CRT: Chinese
Title: Head of a Bodhisattva, Perhaps Mahasthamaprapta
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 700
Creation End Date: 733
Creation Date: Tang period, early 8th century
Creation Place: North China
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Limestone with traces of pigment
Dimensions: H. 13 in. (33 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.115
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: The style and iconography of Chinese Buddhist art, particularly from the 5th through 8th centuries, provides a visual record of the many ways in which the beliefs, customs, and aesthetics of India and China were accommodated to each other to form a distinctive, sinicized tradition of Buddhist thought and art. The full cheeks and plump features of this 8th-century head of a bodhisattva illustrates one of the most important and enduring styles of Buddhist imagery to develop in China. The flaming jewel (chintamani) in the bodhisattva's headdress suggests that this head came from a sculpture of Mahasthamaprapta. This bodhisattva is rarely depicted alone, and it is likely that this head was once part of a triad representing Amitabha Buddha with two attendant bodhisattvas, Mahasthamaprapta and Avalokiteshvara. Carved in the 8th century at the height of the Tang dynasty, sculptures of this style are distinguished by the softness and plumpness of the cheeks, arms, stomach, and other parts of the body. They differ noticeably from earlier works, which were influenced to a certain extent by Indian aesthetics and so emphasize the idealized lines of the bones of the body rather than its flesh.

During the Tang dynasty, China was a major world power, and in addition to trading ceramics and luxury goods to many parts of Asia, it was the source of Buddhism for Korea and Japan, where 8th-century Chinese Buddhist art had a profound influence. As a result, sculptures in the style seen in this charming head were produced throughout Korea and Japan.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 55.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.115
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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