University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Object Number: 17057
Current Location: Collections storage
Provenience: China
Date Made: -1893
Late Date: 1893
Materials:Pearl Shell
Credit Line:Gift of Robert H. Lamborn, 1893
Other Number75 - Collector Number


Freshwater mussel with Buddha pearls. Icon of monk Jigong (济公) is depicted in the center of the shell. Jigong was also known as Daoji (道濟) and sometimes referred to as "the living Buddha" or "the recluse from the lake". The belief in this figure in the region of the east coast of China, especially Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, was once very popular. The shell is a freshwater bivalve most likely cristaria plicata. The shell may have been taken from Tai Lake (太湖). Three of the Buddha images have come loose. The back shows that they are metal molds that were most likley adhered to the shell and then covered with nacre layers over time.

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