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Nepalese-Chinese-style bodhisattva
13th century


Yuan dynasty

Lacquer, cloth, traces of blue, gold, and green paint, and gold leaf
H: 58.5 W: 43.3 D: 29.5 cm
China

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Although made in China, the style of this bodhisattva (enlightened being) is decidedly Nepalese. This influence reflects the cosmopolitan nature of the Yuan dynasty court and its important foreign relations. The Nepalese artist, Anige, headed the Chinese imperial workshop at the time this bodhisattva was made.

The technique used for this sculpture is called "dry lacquer." The basic process is to arrange several layers of lacquer-impregnated cloth over a rough clay core to form the sculpture and with a pastelike lacquer mixture, the finer details can be carefully modeled. Thin iron rods were inserted inside the figure to help support fragile parts. When the figure was finished and the lacquer dry, the clay core was removed from the inside. The resulting sculpture is thus extremely light weight. This image was once painted and gilded, but only traces of the original color remain.