30 LIMESTONE BUDDHA TORSO
CHINA, PROBABLY FROM THE VICINITY OF QINGZHOU, SHANDONG PROVINCE
NORTHERN WEI DYNASTY
H. 60 CMS, 23 ½ INS
A numinous white limestone torso of the Buddha, once part of a triad, the right hand (now missing) raised in abhayamudra (the gesture of dispelling fear) and the left (also missing) probably lowered in varadamudra (the granting of wishes); the figure draped in a close fitting kasaya robe falling from both shoulders, draped over the left forearm and descending to multiple pleats at the ankles, over an undergarment tied at the lower chest with a sash.
In 1996, construction workers in the city of Qingzhou, in the northeastern province of Shandong, discovered a group of exceptionally fine Buddhist sculptures dating to the sixth century under the late Northern Wei (386–534), Eastern Wei (534–550) and Northern Qi (550–577) dynasties. More than a thousand such sculptures have been discovered in the surroundings of Qingzhou and it is likely that this sculpture is from the same area of China.
For a complete Buddha triad in similar style, see cat. no. 3 in Royal Academy of Arts, The Return of the Buddha: The Qingzhou Discoveries, exhibition catalogue, London, 2002.
PROVENANCE: Private English collection.