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Shrine with an Image of a Bodhisattva

This object is a testimony to the strength of Tibetan Buddhism in Qing Dynasty China. The upturned roof and the large ornamental knob on top of the Shrine are Tibetan in style, as is the gilt bronze image of the seated Bodhisattva. The labor and material lavished on cloisonné enamel Buddhist objects demonstrate the continued importance of Buddhist worship in the Qing Dynasty.

Catalogue Description:
Large shrine, containing an image. The shrine rests on a rectangular pedestal with a spreading base, four low feet, a scalloped lower edge, sides that curve inwards to a narrow central band and a railing on top. Rising from the corners of the pedestal are four columns entwined with dragons amongst clouds, in relief, supporting an elaborate domed roof surmounted by a large knob. The edges of the roof spread upwards and outwards, are shaped to resemble ju li heads and have bells suspended from the scrolls which protrude from the corners. The image, a Lamaist Bodhisattva, sits cross-legged on a pedestal, and wears the usual skirt (dhota), sash, jeweled chains, arm bands, and crown. Behind is an arch decorated with a flame pattern in relief. Gilded bronze. The image is decorated with colored glass to simulate jewelry, and the shrine is decorated with cloisonné and champlevé enamels. On the pedestal are false gadroons and floral scrolls in low relief, with the ground filled with colored champlevé enamels, chiefly a dull turquoise. The floor of the pedestal is now similarly enameled a similar turquoise blue. The columns are similarly enameled. The tip of the knob, the ju li head shaped plaques on the roof, and the upward spreading eaves are decorated with lotus scrolls in red, white, pink, yellow, two shades of green and cobalt blue cloisonné enamels on the turquoise ground. The canopy like structure of the shrine is probably Indian in origin and the form of the shrine as a whole corresponds to a well known baldacchino in St. Peters, Rome, created in 1624-1633 by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680). The imperial dragons around the four ornate columns, however, are typically Chinese. Between the base of the knob are double rows of false galdroons, all in relief. Condition: The surface of the enamel is slightly pitted and that of the champlevé is uneven.


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