Collections: Asian Art: Torso of a Bodhisattva

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    1996.217_SL1.jpg CONS.1996.217_1997_xrs_detail01.jpg CONS.1996.217_1997_xrs_detail02.jpg

    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.

    • Medium: Limestone, traces of polychrome
    • Place Made: Tianlongshan, Shanxi province, China
    • Dates: 7th-8th century
    • Dynasty: Tang Dynasty
    • Dimensions: 13 x 22 x 6 x 23 1/2 in., 36.5 lb. (33 x 55.9 x 15.2 x 59.7 cm, 16.56kg)  (show scale)
    • Collections:Asian Art
    • Museum Location: This item is not on view
    • Accession Number: 1996.217
    • Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Poster
    • Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
    • Caption: Torso of a Bodhisattva, 7th-8th century. Limestone, traces of polychrome, 13 x 22 x 6 x 23 1/2 in., 36.5 lb. (33 x 55.9 x 15.2 x 59.7 cm, 16.56kg). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Poster, 1996.217. Creative Commons-BY
    • Image: overall, 1996.217_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    • 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.
    • Record Completeness: Best (87%)
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    Recent Comments
    17:30 09/9/2010
    The Tianlongshan caves are 24 sandstone caves constructed during the N.Wei, N.Qi, and especially, the Sui & Tang Dynasties (l.6th-10th c.) & located about 25 mi/40 km southwest of the capital Taiyuan, in the center of Shanxi province.
    The Xiangtangshan caves are 12 limestone caves, constructed during the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577) & located just 16mi/25km southwest of Handan, in the southwest part of Hebei province. The caves are on North & South Drum Mountains (5 km. apart) & at Shuiyusi (Xiao Xiangtangshan) near the Henan-Shanxi border (just nw of Anyang, Henan).
    If the sculpture is limestone, I would suspect it's from Xiangtangshan, not Tianlongshan, but that might put into question the Tang dating. If it's actually sandstone, then Tianlongshan would be likely be correct. (Note that the University of Chicago has been leading a digital reconstruction project of the Xiangtangshan caves, comparing a) early 20th century photos before the caves were stripped of sculpture against b) sculptures world-wide suspected of coming from these caves. Exhibits will be at U. of Chicago, fall 2010, Smithsonian's Sackler Gallery in Washington, spring 2011, SMU in Dallas, fall 2011, & San Diego Museum of Art, spring 2012.)
    By Doug White



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