Height: 5.800 m
Width: 2.030 m
Gift of the Chinese Government in memory of the Chinese Exhibition in London 1935-36
Asia OA 1938.7-15.1
Marble figure of the Buddha Amitabha
From Chongguang temple, Hancui village, Hebei, northern China
Sui dynasty, AD 585
Inscribed with a dedication
Although Buddhism spread throughout China, it was a foreign religion whose principles did not always concur with traditional Chinese values. Buddhist imagery was often accompanied by Chinese motifs, reflecting Buddhism's adaptability and Chinese inclusiveness.
Most of the Chinese sculpture from the fourth to the fourteenth century is Buddhist. The two emperors of the Sui dynasty (AD 589-618) were both devout Buddhists and they are recorded as being responsible for the creation and repair of many Buddhist images. This marble figure of the Buddha Amitabha, the Buddha of the Western Paradise, is thought to be one such work. The inscription in its base records that it was dedicated at the Chongguang temple in Hancui village in the fifth year of Kaihung, AD 585. The hands are missing but the right hand would have been raised, palm outwards in the gesture of reassurance (abhaya mudra), and the left hand lowered in the gesture of liberality (varada mudra). The figure has a very solid form and drapery in extremely flat folds, typical of the Sui period.
The Buddha Amitabha was originally accompanied by a smaller standing