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Buddhist Stele Commissioned by Zhang Kangui
Source: Henan Museum Edit: acf Time: 2022.01.25 14:43:28

Period: Northern Qi dynasty (550--577)
Measurements: 1.08 m high, 0.57 m wide, 0.08m thick
Provenance: Unearthed at Sun village, west bank of Ru River, west of Xiangcheng county, 1957.

The location of discovery for the Buddhist Stele was previously a Buddhist temple commonly known as Stone Buddha Temple (shi fo si). The local chronicles do not mention the construction and fall of temple, but presumably, it had been submerged due to the flood of the Ru River as early as in Tang dynasty.

The top of the stele was carved with four dragons with their heads pendant on two sides.The bodies form the arched top of the stele. The obverse side of the top was carved with a small niche, in which the principal deity enshrined is Guanyin Bodhisattva, flanked by two attendants. The sculpture on the obverse side is divided into three parts, where a large niche appears carved in the center.It shrines the preacher, Sakyamuni Buddha, who sits in the center, flanked by disciples and Bodhisattvas. The niche was carved with “The Vimalakirti Sutra” - the left figure is Vimalakirti, and the right one is Manjusri Bodhisattva, while the Heavenly Kings and monks are placed in the center, listening to preachings. Underneath the niche is the Lotus Boy who carries the lotus pedestal and Boshan incense burner against the background of symmetric honeysuckle patterns, Bhikkhu, and the Lion, the Dharma Protector.

The artistic style of the statue is relatively distinct. The faces of the Buddha and Bodhisattva are full and round, beautiful and gentle. In terms of the expression methods, it follows the straight-flat carving technique of the Northern Wei Dynasty, combining the techniques of rough in the round and engraving. In total, three methods were adopted in order to sculpt the distinct statues according to different conditions as prerequisite as conventional techniques in Chinese sculptures.