LIMESTONE TORSO OF A BODHISATTVA


China

 32 LIMESTONE TORSO OF A BODHISATTVA

CHINA, PROBABLY FROM THE VICINITY OF QINGZHOU, SHANDONG PROVINCE

NORTHERN QI DYNASTY

550-577 AD

H. 43 CMS, 17 INS

An exquisitely beautiful dark grey limestone torso of a Bodhisattva standing barefoot on a lotus pedestal, carved in perfect symmetry and wearing an elaborate full-length dhoti, adorned with intricate jewellery, comprising a long string of beads (the two strands of which meet at a circular lotus buckle at the waist), a long necklace with a circular lotiform terminal and a pectoral with a long pendant, the left hand holding a lotus and the right hand (now missing) probably once raised in abhayamudra (the gesture of dispelling fear).

For a group of related Bodhisattva torsos from the Qinqzhou museum, see cat. nos. 178-183, pp. 158-159 in Zhao Pu-Chu, Buddhist Imagery Art at Longxing Temple of Qingzhou, 1999. See also, cat. nos. 28 and 29 in Royal Academy of Arts, The Return of the Buddha: The Qingzhou Discoveries, exhibition catalogue, London, 2002.

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.

PROVENANCE: Private English collection.