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Wang Maolang Stele
Wang Maolang Stele, created in the 2nd year of Xiping (512) in the Northern Wei Dynasty, is 219cm tall, 118cm wide and 26cm thick. Originally kept at Shanyang Village, Wucun Township, Huixian City, it is now in the collection of Henan Museum.
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In the history of mankind, Chinese civilization has been shining for its uniqueness, and continuing to this very day with vigor and vitality. Being a prominent birthplace of Chinese civilization ....>>Details
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Name:Wang Jingquan
About the Writer: 

Mr. Wang Jingquan, vice director and researcher of the Exhibition Department of Henan Museum.Devoted to the research on the archaeology and art of Buddhism,he has made an impressive achievement by publishing over 10 monographs and 20+ academic papers on the core journals in China.

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Wang Maolang Stele, also known as Shanyang Village Stele and carved out of limestone, is a figurine representing a Buddha and two bodhisattvas against the lotus-shaped backdrop. The Buddha has a high "flesh chignon" and wears a draping two-collar kasaya covering both shoulders, with the right front piece going underneath the left elbow and cascaded wrinkles. Under the kasaya he wears an antarvāsa decorated with diamond-shaped patterns; and there is a belt tied at the chest and then dangling. As represented, he bends his right arm to present a Fearless Mudra and drops his left hand to grasp the lapel. Wearing a skirt whose hem opens to resemble a swallow tail, he stands on a rectangular base barefoot. The two bodhisattvas each wear a “treasure hat”, with ribbons reaching the shoulders; their peach-shaped auras are decorated with carved honeysuckle motifs. They have nothing to cover their upper bodies except a silk cape draping from each shoulder, whose corner then crosses at the belly, goes through a ring to the knees, then upwards to the elbow and dangles to the pedestal. They each wear a skirt with incised wrinkles. The bodhisattva on the left, i.e. Avalokiteśvara, holds a lotus petal in his right hand placed before his chest, and the “Clean Bottle” (jing-ping) in his left hand dropping down. The bodhisattva on the right, i.e. Mahāsthāmaprāpta holds a lotus petal in his two hands placed at his chest. Both stand barefoot on a lion-on-a-lotus-petal base (yang-lian-shi-zi-zuo). On the middle of the front of the lower rectangular base, a “hill censer” (bo-shan-lu) is carved; on each of the two sides, three groups of worshippers are carved. The auras are elaborately and splendidly carved. From inside to outside, they consist of four layers: the innermost layer is the lotus petal behind the head of the Buddha; next to it is the peach-shaped aura, on which there are the seven carved images of the Buddha sitting cross-legged in meditation. At the tip of the aura there are two dragons coiling together head to head; above the dragons, there is an attendant boy. In the third layer, six celestial musicians or performers are represented, either playing music or dancing, each in a different posture; at its tip there is a yaksha (malevolent spirit) supporting a hill censer. The outermost layer is a series of flame motifs.

Fig.1 The illustration of the Wang Maolang Stele
Fig.2 Boshan Stove carved on the base of the stele

The images on the back are in low relief. In the upper section a trapezoidal roof niche is carved, in which there is the image of Maitreya Bodhisattva, who, as represented, wears a “treasure hat” with ribbons dropping to the shoulders. He also wears a peach-shaped collar ornament; the wide cape forms a corner at the shoulders; the dropping cape ribbon crosses at the chest, goes through a ring to the knees, upwards around the elbows and then downwards. He wears a skirt, which spreads to resemble a swallow tail where the wrinkles are the thickest. To the left there is an inscription which writes, “In the 2nd year of Xiping 70 people of XX Town create the stele for the emperor.” To both the left and right of the niche, there is a group of Buddha-worshippers. On the niche there is the luxuriant nāga-puṣpa tree, with leaves like feathers and fruits like eggplants, which bear scales. On the top of the niche, a ring-supporting immortal is carved on each side; there is a golden crow in one of the rings and a toad in the other, which symbolize the sun and moon. What is represented here is Maitreya’s rebirth in Tuṣita Heaven.

Fig.3 Rubbing of the part of the base

In the upper section of each of the two side surfaces of the aura, a dragon is carved, whose head goes downward and joins the honeysuckle motifs in the middle section. In the lower section, worshippers are carved. There are three groups on the left, identical in appearance and dress with those on the front. The upper group is larger in size, with an 11-character inscription containing “Wang Maolang” after which the piece is named; the lower two groups are smaller, each with an inscription.