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Contemplative Bodhisattva

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Period: Northern Qi dynasty (550-577)
Medium: white marble
Dimensions: height of the damaged sculpture: 44.5 cm, width: 34.3 cm

Adorned in a coronet, the Bodhisattva sits in a partial “lotus posture” (jiafu zuo). He is portrayed with fine eyebrows, long eyes, and a plump face. The two attendants and pair of trees 
coiled with dragons that flank the main figure have been damaged. The high rectangular base of the sculpture is carved with decorative motifs on all four sides. A pair of curly-furred lions face each other on the lower tier of the façade. Flanked by six donors in various sizes and postures, a pair of Dharma guradians appear on the middle tier of the facade. The upper tier of the façade is carved with motifs of the Mount Bo incense burner from which lotus stems and flowers grow. A pair of children emerges from the lotus flowers holding peach-like implements. A pair of apsaras and a pair of Dharma guardians are also prominent in the semetrical arrangement.
  On the left side of the base, the lower tier features carved motifs of four deities. Some scholars believe that the images of the deities are borrowed from Hinduism. Judging from the objects they hold, they have been determined to be a goat deity, a bird deity, and a fire deity, from left to right, respectively. The last one is currently unidentified since the implement he holds can not be identified. The middle tier features carved motifs of musicians, and the upper tier features carvings of four donors. Two of the donors are kneeling down beside a Buddhist shrine, and another two in secular-style garments are holding flowers and incense. Their names are carved beside the images.
  On the right side of the base, the lower tier features carved motifs of four deities, namely, a river deity, a wind deity, a mountain deity, and a tree deity. The middle tier is carved with images of musicians. The upper tier features the same donors and their inscribed names as those carved on the left side of the base.
  The back of the base is carved with a female donor holding incense and flowers. Additionaly, an inscription reads, “Zhang Ying, subsequent wife of Liu Yuan” and a partial date “the first month of…, the thirtieth day, the jiawu day”.
  Excavated during expeditions in 1953-1954 at Quyang County, Hebei Province, this rare sculpture is rich with Buddhist significance.

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