Head of a Buddha

Historical period(s)
Tang dynasty, ca. 700
H x W x D: 76.2 cm (30 in) Weight: 129.3 kg (285.1 lb)
China, Probably Henan province, Probably Longmen caves
Credit Line
Gift of The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Sackler: Level 2 Staircase Corridor
Sculpture, Stone

Buddhist sculpture

Buddha, Buddhism, China, Tang dynasty (618 - 907), ushnisha, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

Carved of dark gray limestone, this imposing Buddha head is characterized by a serene yet remote expression that is typical of early Tang dynasty religious images.  Imperial patronage of Buddhism during the Tang dynasty, approximately seven hundred years after knowledge of Buddhism first reached China, resulted in the creation of some of the most impressive sculptures in Chinese history.  For this Buddha head, all traces of Indian and Central Asian influence have been replaced by a native Chinese aesthetic.  Sculptures of this style are found in the Longmen cave temples in Henan Province and may have been the source for this piece.

Published References
  • Osvald Siren. Chinese Sculptures., 1970 Reprint. London and New York. vol. 4: pl. 466 c.
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 226-227.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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