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Torso of a Bodhisattva

This sculpture from Tianlongshan (Heavenly Dragon Mountain) exemplifies the aesthetic ideal of the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618–907). With its fleshy modeling and voluptuousness, it reveals a naturalism that may be influenced by the artistic styles of contemporaneous India. The drapery is integrated with the structure of the figure in a naturalistic way, and though fragmentary, the piece displays the graceful linear geometry characteristic of the Tang visual vocabulary. Carved in high relief in a finely grained white stone, the figure wears a royal costume whose folds of drapery emphasize the torso and define the body's rounded form. The pectoral ornament and long scarf are typical Tang elements in Buddhist sculpture, accentuated by traces of red-brown color.

Catalogue Description:
The object is a stone sculpture depicting a standing figure of a bodhisattva. The sculpture is carved in high relief (the reverse and the back edge of the sides of the sculpture are uncarved). The sculpture is leaning slightly towards the proper right with the proper right arm down and the proper left arm raised at the elbow. The figure is partially draped with fabric. A white ground layer exists over much of the front surface of the sculpture. Traces of pigment, red, brown, blue and black, are noticeable on the front of the sculpture. Condition: The object is in poor condition. Problems include loose joints, an unstable mount, flaking pigment and an overall friable stone surface.


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