Head of a Buddha

Carved head exists as a fragment with the back cut away and broken at the neck. Hair sits low on the forhead and has snail-shell shaped pattern. Proper left ear missing and proper right ear mostly gone. Downcast eyes, corpulent face with full cheeks and pursed mouth.

… Read More

Historical period(s)
Tang dynasty, ca. 700
Medium
Limestone
Dimensions
H x W x D: 76.2 cm (30 in) Weight: 129.3 kg (285.1 lb)
Geography
China, Probably Henan province, Probably Longmen caves
Credit Line
Gift of The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1997.26
On View Location
Sackler: Level 2 Staircase Corridor
Classification(s)
Sculpture, Stone
Type

Buddhist sculpture

Keywords
Buddha, Buddhism, China, Tang dynasty (618 - 907), ushnisha
Provenance

? - to 1965
J.T. Tai & Co., New York, NY [1]

1965-1977
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler (1913-1987), New York, NY, purchased from J.T. Tai & Co., New York, NY [2]

1977-1987
The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, purchased from J.T. Tai & Co., New York, NY [3]

From 1987
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, gift of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation

Notes:

[1] The dealer number is YT 4498. See invoice from J.T. Tai & Co., dated March 24, 1965, copy in object file.

[2] Dr. Arthur M. Sackler purchased this object from J.T. Tai & Co. in March 1965. He donated the object to the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation in December 1977.

[3] See the paper documentation from the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Dr. Arthur M. Sackler 1913-1987
J.T. Tai & Co. established in 1950
Arthur M. Sackler Foundation founded 1965

Description

Carved head exists as a fragment with the back cut away and broken at the neck. Hair sits low on the forhead and has snail-shell shaped pattern. Proper left ear missing and proper right ear mostly gone. Downcast eyes, corpulent face with full cheeks and pursed mouth.

Label

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  For this Buddha head, all traces of Indian and Central Asian influence have been replaced by a native Chinese aesthetic.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
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. 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 Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.