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Contemplative Bodhisattva

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Period: Eastern Wei dynasty (534-550)
Medium: white marble
Date: 539
Dimensions: height: 48 cm

The bodhisattva wears a tall three-leaf coronet. Seemingly blown high by the wind, ribbons used to fasten the crown are shown on the round back panel that indicates the figure’s halo. The style of the ribbons is a distinct period feature and a key element for dating these types of sculptures. The figure has a rather oblong face, long eyebrows, and fine eyes. The upturned corners of the eyes reveal a smile. The bodhisattva sits in partial lotus posture on a lotus throne. With one foot resting on the opposite thigh, a partial lotus posture is a position used in contemplative meditation. The figure leans his upper torso forward. His right hand holds the stem of a lotus bud that extends upward to the back panel. The back of the plain surface of the base is carved with a votive text, reading, “On the first day of the first lunar month of the second year of the Yuanxiang reign, the Buddhist follower and nun Huizhao commissioned this sculpture of the contemplative Bodhisattva for the reverent King, my deceased ancestors and parents, my living family members, and all sentient beings to be reborn in the Western Land of Supreme Bliss together.”

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