Head of a devata

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 2

Terms of Use

Usage Conditions Apply

At A Glance

  • Period

    probably seventh century
  • Geography

    Kucha, Xinjiang province, China
  • Material

    Gypsum plaster with pigment
  • Dimension

    H x W x D (top): 38.1 x 30.2 x 4.8 cm (15 x 11 7/8 x 1 7/8 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Provenance

    Cave 188, Kizil Cave Complex, ancient kingdom of Kucha, Baicheng county, Xinjiang province, China. [1]
    From 1905-1907 to 1928
    Museum für Völkerkunde (Museum of Ethnology, formerly the Royal Museum of Ethnology), Berlin, acquired in the Third German Expedition to Central Asia, led by Albert Grünwedel (1856-1935) and Albert von Le Coq (1860-1930) between December 1905 to April 1907. [2]
    From at least 1928 to 1929
    John Gellatly (1853-1931), New York, New York, purchased from an unidentified source. [3]
    From 1929
    Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of John Gellatly in 1929; from 1985 on loan to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. [4]
    [1]. See Keith Wilson, “Meiguo Huashengdun tequ Shimisen xuehui zang de Kezier bihua duanpian (Kizil wall painting fragments at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC),” Xin meishu 2016: 5, 20-34, Table 2.
    [2] The wall fragment was taken by Albert Grünwedel and Albert von Le Coq for the Museum of Ethnology in Berlin. See note 1.
    [3] According to ongoing research by Sonya S. Lee, the German museum sold some pieces, first in 1923 and again in 1928 to raise some funds. Although documents surrounding their purchase have not yet been found, it is believed the fragment now in the Smithsonian was part of the second batch, which was sold in 1928. See Keith Wilson, “Meiguo Huashengdun tequ Shimisen xuehui zang de Kezier bihua duanpian (Kizil wall painting fragments at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC),” Xin meishu 2016: 5, 20-34. Furthermore, Sonya Lee posits that there were two main dealers: Yamanaka Sadajiro and C. T. Loo, who purchased from either the German museum or Le Coq during the 1928 sale. See Sonya S. Lee, “Central Asia coming to the museum: The display of Kucha mural fragments in interwar Germany and the United States,” Journal of the History of Collections, 2016: 28 (3), 417-436.
    [4] John Gellatly gifted his collection to the then named, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution. “The National Gallery of Art” was a term used by the Smithsonian Institution starting in 1906 to designate its fine art collection. In 1937, this Smithsonian unit was renamed the “National Collection of Fine Art.” In 1980 the name was changed to “National Museum of American Art”, and in 2000 it was finally changed to its current name, “Smithsonian American Art Museum.” Since 1985, the piece has been on loan to the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. See object file titled, “Gellatly Loan – Loan Negotiations Sackler Administration Loan Forms”, Collections Management Office.
  • Collection

    Long-term loan
  • Origin

    Kucha, Xinjiang province, China
  • Credit Line

    Long-term loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum; gift of John Gellatly, 1929.8.325.3
  • Type

  • Restrictions and Rights

    Usage Conditions Apply

    There are restrictions for re-using this media. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The National Museum of Asian Art welcomes information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.

Keep Exploring