University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

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Object Number: 34-7-1
Current Location: China Gallery
Currently On Display
Provenience: China
Li Cheng
Date Made: 6th Century
Early Date: 500
Late Date: 599
Technique:Low relief
Iconography:Vessantara Jataka
Prince Vessantara
Buddhist Deity
Credit Line:Purchased from C. T. Loo; Randall Morgen Fund, 1934


Pedestal. Oblong block of dark grey limestone. This carved pedestal would have originally supported a statue in the socket at the top. The pedestal depicts scenes from one of the Jataka Tales, stories describing one of many previous incarnations of the Buddha before he was born as Siddhartha Gautama, or Shakaymuni. In this incarnation, the Buddha had been born as Prince Vessantara who gives away his worldly possessions, including an elephant thought to ensure wealth of his kingdom. This unprecedented generosity leads to his eventual attainment of enlightenment. The front panel shows an earth deity accompanied by lokapalas, or guardians. On the left Vessantara gives away his last belongings, including his cart. He says goodbye to his children on the right side, with his wife shown detained by deities in the form of wild animals so that she will not witneess Vessantara parting from their children. The back panel depicts Vessantara's two children now as servants in the hills.

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: Fig.19View Objects cited in this Publication
[Article] Fernald, Helen E. 1934. An Early Chinese Sculpture. The University Museum Bulletin. 5 (2) : Page/Fig./Plate: 48-53, pls.7, 8.View Objects cited in this Publication
[Article] Siren, Osvald. 1928. An Exhibition of Early Chinese Sculptures - I. The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs. Volume 53 (306): p. 127-129+132-135. : Page/Fig./Plate: 127-134, pl. 2.View Objects cited in this Publication
[Article] Ferguson, John C. 1919. Outlines of Chinese Art. Scammon lectures. : Page/Fig./Plate: 114-116.View Objects cited in this Publication

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