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Gathering of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas
550-577


Northern Qi dynasty
Northern Qi dynasty

Limestone with traces of pigment
H: 120.8 W: 340.0 cm
China

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The jeweled trees and lush scenery suggest a gathering of Buddhas, bodhisattvas (enlightened beings), and blessed souls, perhaps in one of the four directional Buddhist paradises. Traces of color on the stone hint at the brilliance of the mural, which was originally painted with gold and bright colors.The relief-sculpture mural most likely once decorated a stupa-pillar, or large square shaft, attached to the center of the rear wall of one of the caves at Southern Xiangtangshan, a court-sponsored Buddhist cave-temple created during the Northern Qi dynasty. Several scholars suggest that the mural came from Cave 2 at Southern Xiangtangshan. A related object in the Freer's collection is F1921.2.