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Bodhisattva with a glass bowl, ink and colours on a silk banner


Height: 81.500 cm
Width: 26.300 cm

Gift of Sir Marc Aurel Stein

Asia OA 1919,1-1,0.139


    Bodhisattva with a glass bowl, ink and colours on a silk banner

    From Cave 17, Mogao, near Dunhuang, Gansu province, China
    Tang dynasty, late 9th century AD

    This is one of the most beautifully executed banners from Mogao in the British Museum. The well-balanced figure of the bodhisattva is supported by a lotus flower, depicted in fine detail. The figure's scarves and thick, black hair fall beautifully following the curves of the body. The glass bowl and some of the scarves are shown as transparent with a light wash of paint, all the details behind it visible.

    The body is outlined in an even black line, with a light red paint wash used to indicate the inside of the palms and earlobes, folds of the neck and to pick out the eyes.

    The glass bowl resembles actual examples from Iran. We know that Sasanian glass was very popular during the Tang dynasty (AD 618-906) in Buddhist temples such as the famous Famensi temple near Xi'an at one end of the Silk Road.

    R. Whitfield, Art of Central Asia: The Ste-2, vol. 1 (Tokyo, Kodansha International Ltd., 1982-85)

    R. Whitfield and A. Farrer, Caves of the thousand Buddhas: (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


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    A history of Chinese silk, £29.95

    A history of Chinese silk, £29.95