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.

Find in the collection online

More information


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)


Height: 81.500 cm
Width: 26.300 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1919,1-1,0.139


Gift of Sir Marc Aurel Stein


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore