The Northern Qi period witnessed a transformation in Buddhist sculptural style, particularly in regards to drapery, from the earlier Northern Wei period. While the artisans of the Northern Wei depicted the Buddha's robes with a deep neck and voluminous, rippling folds, Northern Qi robes are soft and diaphanous, revealing the contours of the body beneath. The present figure, like many other similar examples of the period, is lavishly painted and gilded in imitation of Buddha's patchwork robes, the gilding used to delineate the seams between each square of red cloth. For a closely related figure, see Masterpieces of Buddhist Statuary from Qingzhou City, Beijing, 1999, p. 108.
The Northern Qi style is an indirect interpretation of the Indian Gupta style, particularly the Sarnath school, transmitted to China via the Central Asian trade routes. The adoption of the foreign style reflects the socio-political changes that occurred at the beginning of the Northern Qi period, when its rulers looked to non-Han stylistic traditions. This was in marked contrast to the Northern Wei rulers, who sought to acculturate themselves within the Han polity through a process of Sinicization.