painting / 繪畫
Painted figure of Avalokiteśvara. He holds a willow spray in his right hand and a water vase in the left, from which issues a spray with lotus buds and leaves. On the bottom right are two kneeling female donor figures, each holding a lotus. Ink and colours on silk.
- 826-875 (circa)
- Excavated/Findspot: Qian Fo Dong, Ch.0091 (from Cave 17 at Ch’ien Fo Tung (pinyin: Qian Fo Dong))
- (Asia,China,Gansu (province),Dunhuang,Qian Fo Dong (Caves of the Thousand Buddhas))
- Excavated/Findspot: 千佛洞
- Height: 101.6 centimetres
- Width: 58.5 centimetres
Although very much faded, this painting of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is very well painted and surely belongs to the ninth century. The Bodhisattva holds a willow spray in the right hand and a water vase in the left; from this vase there issues a tall waving spray with lotus buds and leaves, as well as small pairs of opposing leaves of a completely different kind. Clearly the artist had no personal knowledge of the appearance of a real lotus, or was more concerned to echo in his depiction the graceful benevolence of the figure in the sinuous curves of the stem. New leaves and flower buds succeed each other very much as successive landscape scenes were placed one above another in the side scenes to paradise paintings.
The Bodhisattva is seen full face, the body swaying slightly to his left, so that the left shoulder is brought slightly forward. All pigment has faded from the face, leaving only the ink lines contouring the main features. Behind the “parent” figure of Amitābha in the headdress, the twin branches of the topknot are seen; The rest of the hair falls behind the shoulders, with fanciful upturned locks here and more substantial swelled ends at elbow level. In this it is rather similar to Pl.13, but the stole, originally purple with a green lining, is narrower and reveals part of the upper left arm; beneath it is a red sash, rather than an underrobe, so that the lower torso is again partly exposed. The rippling edges of the stole, looped up near the shoulders and falling over the right arm or open to reveal the left, all display a lively appreciation of space and movement that can be contrasted with the stiffer formalization of the same motifs in, for example, Stein painting 22(Vol.2, Pl.3).
At the lower right of the painting kneel two female donors, each holding a lotus (Fig.37). They too are of early or mid-ninth century type, to judge by the simple hairstyles. The painting has lost a certain amount at the bottom, as well as its borders, but appears to be almost complete at the sides and top. The cartouche in the upper left corner, like that in Pl.13, was left uninscribed.此觀世音菩薩像褪色嚴重卻是一件傑作，確實是9世紀的作品。菩薩右手持柳枝，左手提淨瓶，彎彎曲曲的長莖從瓶口伸出，莖上除蓮花蕾和葉子外，其他都是別類植物的小對葉。繪此畫的畫家也許沒見過真正的蓮花，也許是著意體現觀音的慈悲普及到彎曲的長莖。本幅畫中的樹葉和花蕾與淨土變相圖常常在邊緣繪製的連續山水畫非常場相像。
Fragment located in drawer 8
For full acquisition history, see 1919,0101,0.1.
- Ch.0091 (Stein no.)
Front Finely painted figure of Avalokitesvara. He holds a wilow spray in his right hand and a water vase in the left, from which issues a spray with lotus buds and leaves. On the bottom right are two kneeling female donor figures, each holding a lotus. Ink and colours on silk.
Object reference number: RFC627