University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

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Object Number: C404
Current Location: China Gallery
Currently On Display
Provenience: China
Period: Northern Qi Dynasty
Date Made: 551 AD
Early Date: 551
Late Date: 551
Low relief
High Relief
Life of the Buddha
Height: 99cm
Width: 51cm
Depth: 28cm
Credit Line:Purchased from C. T. Loo, 1923


Votive stela. Carved block of grey limestone with a brownish patina. Recess in front contains figures in high relief; sides are carved with scenes in very low relief; the top is curved and supports the arched bodies of three double-headed dragons; the back is inscribed. The original inscription was probably erased to make room for the one now there which tells of the restoration of the stela in 1561 CE; this is followed by the names of distinguished personages; then there is a history of the stela in which it is stated that the monument was dedicated in the 2nd year of the Tianbao reign period of the Northern Qi (551 CE). In the central scene of this stela, the Buddha is surrounded by an assembly of monks, bodhisattvas, and priests. Above this, two figures sit debating the Buddhist truths. Vimalakirti, a Buddhist layman, is on the right holding a fan and Manjusri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, is on the left. The scene is from Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra which introduced the concept that enlightenment could be attained by laymen and not only be ascetic monks, thus promoting Buddhism among the Chinese intellectual elite.

Current & Past Exhibitions:

Chinese Rotunda (1968)View Objects in Exhibition
Chinese Halls (1941 - 1966)View Objects in Exhibition


[Article] Jayne, Horace H. F. 1941. The Chinese Collections of The University Museum: A Handbook of the Principal Objects. The University Museum Bulletin. 9 (2-3) : Page/Fig./Plate: p. 36 Fig. 29View Objects cited in this Publication
[Article] Fernald, Helen E. 1927. A Note on the Chinese Stela of 551 A.D. The Museum Journal. Volume XVIII (No. 1) : Page/Fig./Plate: 111-114View Objects cited in this Publication
[Article] Fernald, H. E. 1926. Ancient Chinese Musical Instruments. The Museum Journal. Volume XVII (No. 4): 325-371. : Page/Fig./Plate: 325-371View Objects cited in this Publication
[Book] Siren, Osvald. 1925. Chinese sculpture from the fifth to the fourteenth century; over 900 specimens in stone, bronze, lacquer and wood, principally from northern China. : Page/Fig./Plate: Plate 233, 234View Objects cited in this Publication
[Book] Ashton, Leigh. 1924. An Introduction to the Study of Chinese Sculpture. : Page/Fig./Plate: 64, pl. 26View Objects cited in this Publication
[Article] Gordon, George B. 1923. A Fine Chinese Stela in the Museum. The Museum Journal. Volume XIV (No. 1) : Page/Fig./Plate: 27-33View Objects cited in this Publication

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