University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

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Object Number: C405A
Current Location: China Gallery
Currently On Display
Provenience: China
Period: Yuan Dynasty
Date Made: Yuan Dynasty
Early Date: 1279
Late Date: 1368
Technique:Dry Lacquer
Iconography:Sakyamuni Buddha
Height: 81cm
Width: 83.8cm
Depth: 61cm
Credit Line:Purchased from C. T. Loo, 1923


Seated figure of Sakyamuni Buddha in meditation with chin leaning on hands which are joined over the raised left knee. The other leg is bent horizontally in front of the figure. Sakyamuni is the honorific name for Siddhartha Gautama (563 - 483 BCE), also known as the historical Buddha. The Buddha's unusual smile offsets his austere demeanor. Crafted during the period of Mongolian rule in China, the facial features suggest connections with Nepalese Buddhism.

The use of dry lacquer was a time consuming process during which layers of clay, paper, lacquer, and cloth were applied to the figure. The drapery, with its free-flowing folds is uncommon for the time; it shows the natural folds of the cloth that was laid on the figure during the process. At one time, five woodblock printed and manuscript sutras, in Chinese and Tibetan, were inside the hollow figure (see C405 B-F, H). Perfumed ashes were also found which would have helped to protect the lacquer from worms. Additionally a small parcel containing five organs made of silver was present inside the statue.

Current & Past Exhibitions:

Chinese Rotunda (1968)View Objects in Exhibition
Chinese Halls (1941 - 1966)View Objects in Exhibition
World Tour of Bodies of Culture: Body Modification (1996)View Objects in Exhibition


[Article] Steinhardt, Nancy S. 2008. "The Chinese Rotunda". Arts of Asia. 38 (5): 83-95. : Page/Fig./Plate: Pg. 91, Fig. 24View Objects cited in this Publication
[Article] Slusser, Mary S. 1996. "The Art of East Asian Lacquer Sculpture". Orientations. 27 (1): 27-28. : Page/Fig./Plate: 27-28, Fig 22View Objects cited in this Publication
[Catalogue] Lee, Sherman E. & Ho, Wai-kam. 1968. Chinese Art Under the Mongols: The Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). : Page/Fig./Plate: Plate 19View Objects cited in this Publication
[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. 16, 20-21View Objects cited in this Publication
[Catalogue] Royal Academy of Arts. 1935. Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Chinese Art. : Page/Fig./Plate: Pg. 48, No. 640; Pg. 61, 640 (illustration)View Objects cited in this Publication
[Article] Jayne, Horace H. F. 1935. The Museum's Loan to Burlington House ( for International Exhibition of Chinese Art held in London 1935-36). The University Museum Bulletin. 6 (1) : Page/Fig./Plate: 17-21, Plate 6View Objects cited in this Publication
[Article] Fernald, Helen E. 1927. A Chinese Buddhistic Statue in Dry Lacquer. The Museum Journal. Volume XVIII (No. 3): 284-294. : Page/Fig./Plate: 284-294View 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 620View Objects cited in this Publication
[Article] 1924. Chinese Sculpture. The Museum Journal. Volume XV (No. 4): 258-287. : Page/Fig./Plate: pg. 260, Plate VView Objects cited in this Publication

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