Votive Stela


Location: On Display in the Asia Galleries

From: China | Henan

Curatorial Section: Asian

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Object Number C404
Current Location Asia Galleries - On Display
Culture Chinese | Buddhist
Provenience China | Henan
Period Northern Qi Dynasty
Date Made 551 CE
Section Asian
Materials Stone
Technique Carved | Low Relief | High Relief
Iconography Buddha | Monks | Bodhisattvas | Manjusri | Vimalakirti | Life of the Buddha | Dragons | Dancers | Musicians | Lotus | Lion
Inscription Language Chinese Language

Votive stela. Carved block of grey limestone with a brownish patina. The recess in the front contains figures in high relief while the 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 current one which tells of the restoration of the stela in 1561 CE. This is followed by the names of distinguished personages which is followed by 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.

Height 99 cm
Width 51 cm
Depth 28 cm
Thickness 0 cm
Credit Line Purchased from C. T. Loo, 1923

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