A STONE BUDDHIST STELE SECTION
A STONE BUDDHIST STELE SECTION

NORTHERN WEI DYNASTY (AD 386-534)

Details
A STONE BUDDHIST STELE SECTION
NORTHERN WEI DYNASTY (AD 386-534)
The stele is carved with a curtain-framed niche enclosing two bodhisattvas seated on lions flanking the central figure of the bodhisattva Maitreya shown seated with right hand raised and the left resting on the left knee, his ankles are crossed so that the feet rest on a lotus pod supported by the raised, scarf-wrapped arms of a kneeling figure flanked on each side by two disciples standing with their hands clasped within the full sleeves of their robes. A dedicatory inscription is carved on the reverse.
10 1/8 in. (25.7 cm.) high, wood stand
Provenance
Private collection, Japan, acquired prior to 1930.

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Lot Essay

The inscription includes the names of those who commissioned the stele, but the date is now missing.
This stone stele section is similar to others of Northern Wei date that depict Maitreya seated with crossed ankles between lions and subsidiary figures within a curtain-framed niche. An upper section of a stone stele in the Beilin Museum, Xian, is illustrated by Matsubara Saburo in Chugoku Bukkyo Chokokushi ron (The Path of Chinese Buddhist Sculpture), vol. 1, Tokyo, 1995, pl. 215. On the Beilin Museum example, Maitreya is flanked by two figures of disciples that appear to be kneeling on the backs of the lions, which are in turn flanked by two Buddhas seated with their hands resting on the knees of their pendent legs. Three other steles that include similar sections are illustrated by Li Jingjie in Shifo Xuancui (Essence of Buddhist Statues), Beijing, 1995: one with a dedicatory inscription from Guanzhong, p. 37, no. 17; one from Maijishan Mountain, Tianshui City, p. 38, no. 18; and one from Nannieshui, Qinxian county, p. 177, no. 157. In all of these representations, the depiction of the gathered curtain as a framing device implies that the curtain has been pulled back to reveal the scene within.

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