Height: 134.000 cm
Width: 102.000 cm
Gift of Sir Marc Aurel Stein
Asia OA 1919,1-1,0.67-68
Illustration to the Fumu enzhong jing, ink and colours on silk
From Cave 17, Mogao, near Dunhuang, Gansu
Northern Song dynasty, late 10th century AD
The Confucian ideal of filial piety in a Buddhist context
The upper part of the painting is occupied by a
Buddha group with the historical Buddha,
The sutra describes blessings received from one's parents. On the right a boy is shown receiving instructions from his father, and there is a baby in the arms of his mother. The relevant text is that in the cartouche to the left of the scene: 'Father and mother cherish and hold him making gentle sounds; he smiles but cannot yet speak. When he is hungry and needs to eat, were it not for his mother he would not be given suck.' Another scene (to the top on the far left) illustrates how old parents are abandoned after their son marries. Filial piety was one of the most important Confucian virtues, and this painting illustrates that it remained important in Chinese Buddhism.
Donor figures once occupied the lowest register, but are now largely destroyed. Best preserved is the lady on the right whose clothing, hair style and elaborate make-up is typical of tenth-century fashion at Dunhuang.
R. Whitfield, Art of Central Asia: The Ste-1, vol. 2 (Tokyo, Kodansha International Ltd., 1982-85)