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painting / banner / 繪畫 / 幡

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Painted banner with Kṣitigarbha standing on a lotus, shown as a monk with a shaven head and wearing a patchwork robe (kasaya). Inscription in cartouche. Ink and colours on silk.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 9thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 58 centimetres
    • Width: 18.5 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        in cartouche
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Translation

        Praise to Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha
      • Inscription Comment

        Cartouche inscribed on back, so characters appear in reverse and are partially obscured.
  • Curator's comments

    Those Bodhisattvas already examined are not easily identifiable, due to the absence of distinguishing attributes. Except for the lack of a “parent” figure in the headdress, they might easily be identified as Avalokitesvaras. Only one Bodhisattva, however, wears the patched robe and shaven head of a monk, namely, Ksitigarbha. In this painting he is identified in the accompanying cartouche: “Praise to Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.”
    Ksitigarbha, although hard to trace in Indian mythology, became extremely popular in China, as the many depictions of him among the Dunhuang banners testify (several from the Pelliot collection as well as those shown here from the Stein collection). He is represented with closely shaven head, as here, or as the patron of travelers, with a hood covering the head, as in some of the tenth-century examples. Youngsook Pak has analysed the significance of the Ksitigarbha cult in her inaugural dissertation (1981) for the University of Heidelberg. According to her, numerous Dunhuang manuscripts exist of the extremely short Dicang puse jing 地藏菩薩經,which describes Dicang or Ksitigarbha looking down on those suffering in purgatory, and instructs that those who write out his sutra or recite his name will be reborn in the Western Paradise. Thus Ksitigarbha, no less than Avalokitesvara, can be seen to be closely connected with the cult of Amitābha.
    It should be noted here that the cartouche was accidentally inscribed on the back of the painting, so that the characters appear in reverse and are partially obscured by the opaque colour of the cartouche. The outlines of the figure are, on the other hand, crisp and clear, and comparison with Pl. 45 shows that this is the front of the painting, with the kasāya hanging from the Bodhisattva’s own left shoulder.
    The headpiece of this banner is preserved with it. An ancient repair using large overcast stitches is visible at the height of the canopy about the Bodhisattva’s head. The centre of the headpiece is of a silk dyed with flowers in pink and green. On the reverse the headpiece was lined with plain sage-green silk. The hanging loop inscribed with a character hua 華 and parts of the dark blue side streamers are also preserved separately.上述菩薩不容易被區分,如果不具備足夠的識別特徵,就很難斷定具體是哪一位菩薩。假設寶冠上配有化佛時,他就很容易被認定是觀世音菩薩。只有一個菩薩很容易被識別,身著由很多布片縫成的衲衣,頭部如僧侶般剃髮的像,無疑就是地藏菩薩。


  • Bibliography

    • Fraser 1996a fig.152 bibliographic details
    • Whitfield 1982 pl.44 bibliographic details
    • Stein 1921a pp.1008-1009; vol.IV, pl.LXXXIII bibliographic details
  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    For full acquisition history, see 1919,0101,0.1.

  • Department


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • Ch.i.003 (Stein no.)
Painted banner with Ksitigarbha standing on a lotus, shown as a monk with a shaven head and wearing a patchwork robe (kasaya). Inscription in cartouche. Ink and colours on silk.

Front Painted banner with Ksitigarbha standing on a lotus, shown as a monk with a shaven head and wearing a patchwork robe (kasaya). Inscription in cartouche. Ink and colours on silk.

Image description



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