The imagery in this plaque is comparable to paintings from the Dunhuang caves, dated to the early 8th century, such as that seen on the silk fragment included in the exhibition, Caves of the Thousand Buddhas: Chinese Art from the Silk Route, British Museum, London, 1990, illustrated on the front cover of the catalogue and p. 24, no. 1. The appearance of monk disciples on the present plaque suggests that the main figure is a depiction of Sakyamuni.
Three other small gilt-metal plaques of this type, depicting Sakyamuni seated on a lotus throne flanked by bodhisattvas and monk disciples were included in the exhibition, Zui to no bijutsu, Osaka Muncipal Museum of Fine Art, 1976, pp. 46-7, nos. 3-51 (Fogg Museum), 3-52 (Hakutsura Museum) and 3-62 (Nezu Museum). All have more auxilliary figures than the present plaque, the configuration of these figures is also different and they are smaller. On nos. 3-51 and 3-52, the scene includes apsaras at the top, while they are not present on no. 3-62, which does, however, depict the monk disciples standing beside the figure of Sakyamuni, as they do on the present plaque. They are in turn flanked by figures of standing, not seated, bodhisattvas.
See, also, the small plaque of this type sold in these rooms, 24 March 2004, lot 74 and another sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 29-30 October 2001, lot 507. On each of these Buddha is depicted seated beneath a canopy.