Stele depicting Buddha, Avalokiteshvara and Maitreya

This stele depicts the Buddha flanked by the two Bodhisattva - Avalokiteshvara and Maitreya, proportionately smaller, dressed in their princely and bejewelled attire. A Bodhisattva is one who has achieved salvation but chooses to forgo entering nirvana out of compassion for the suffering of others.This composition of the three Buddhist figures represents the pagentry celebrating the revelation of the eternal Buddha who preached the Mahayana scripture, the Lotus sutra. In this representation, Buddha looks like a member of the Chinese literati of the time, whose main preoccupation was to indulge in idle discourse or 'qingtan' un particular Buddhism and Taoism. He is seen here dressed in garments with layers of drapery, which the literati associated with themselves. This stele probably came from the a niche in a cave temple.

Date/Period
Eastern Wei dynasty (534-550 CE)
Region
China
Dimension
Object size: H84.5 x L47.7 cm
Accession No.
1995-03901
Material
Limestone
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum
Category
Sculpture

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