The image of the Buddha wearing a thin dhoti clinging to the contours of the body is like that of many stone sculptures found in recent decades in Shandong province that are believed to be of the Northern Qi period. Most spectacular of these finds is the 1996 discovery of a buried hoard of over 200 images, many in fragmented form, at the site of the Longxing Temple in Qingzhou city. Numerous examples of Buddhas from this group have robes painted red and gold and other colors in patterns of rectangular patches which are a sign of the vows of poverty and renunciation of worldly life taken by the Buddha and his followers. One of these figures, which is similar to the present example, was included in the exhibition, The Golden Age of Chinese Archaeology: Celebrated Discoveries from the People's Republic of China, National Gallery of Art, Washington; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1999-2000, pp. 445-446, no. 152. See, also, another similar figure illustrated in Zhongguo meishu quanji; diaosu bian, 6, Yuan Ming Qing diaosu, Beijing, 1988, p. 102, no. 26.
This and other finds made at sites in the vicinity of Qingzhou and in other areas of Shandong including Zhucheng, Boxing, and Linquxian highlight the distinct changes in Buddhist imagery that occurred in the middle of the sixth century, from the Eastern Wei to Northern Qi periods. A transition was made from the depiction of the Buddha as Chinese-looking to portraying him in a more Indian form - including a change from wearing thick pleated robes that hid the body to being shown in a very thin diaphanous robe. This new mode can be related to new social-political affiliations, religious beliefs, and artistic activity in the Northern Qi period.