- Museum number
- Object: 河北清涼寺三菩薩壁畫 (Three Bodhisattvas)
Wall painting, depicting three standing bodhisattvas, each with a prominent halo. The central figure is Avalokitesvara (Guanyin) with the image of Amitabha in his headdress. On the left is Samantabhadra (Puxian), holding a fly whisk and wearing a headdress with a triple jewel. On the right is Manjusri (Wenshu) who also has a figure of a buddha in his headdress and holds a sceptre in his hand. Painted with colours on plaster.
- Production date
1424 (initially painted? Painting may be earlier)
1437 (subsequent work)
1468 (subsequent work)
Height: 430 centimetres
Width: 454 centimetres (in wooden frame)
Width: 400 centimetres
Depth: 30 centimetres (in wooden frame)
- Curator's comments
The Qingliang Monastery was founded in 1183. An inscription dated 1485 states that wall paintings in the Monastery were executed in 1424 by monks from Mount Wutai, Shanxi province, and that subsequent work was done in 1437 and 1468. This Monastery was a stopping point for pilgrims travelling to and from the sacred Buddhist site Mount Wutai.
According to the 1927 catalogue by Binyon, when W. M. Weinberger saw the Qingliang Monastery, it was composed of three buildings in a dilapidated state. In the first of these buildings was a large wooden statue of a Buddha, much damaged, with smaller images grouped around it. The second building contained a large statue of a seated Buddha. Behind it, rising high above the Buddha’s head, was a wooden halo shaped like a horseshoe but broader at the top. At the back of this halo was a still larger wooden framework. Attached to this wooden foundation was the wall painting, painted on plaster over a preparation of dried mud. The wall painting was removed from this wooden structure in twelve sections and brought back to London where it was acquired by George Eumorfopoulos who then donated it to the British Museum in 1927. The Qingliang Monastery was destroyed in wartime during the first half of the 20th century.
The middle figure faces outwards, while those flanking him are in curved postures. Two of the Bodhisattvas, one holding a sceptre and both with a 'parent' Amitābha in the headdress, are the classical Avalokiteśvara; the remaining figure has three gems in his crown and holds a fly-whisk. All are prominently haloed and with narrow repetitive falling drapery folds. Although the ruined temple from which they are said to come, called Chingliang (Pure Coolness), was founded in 1183, an inscription of 1485, still standing there in recent times, states that the wall-paintings 'with three great figures of Guanyin and others' were executed in 1424 by monks from a temple at Wutai shan and that subsequent work, including painting, was done in 1437 and 1468. These dates accord readily with both style and colouring, clearly in the tradition of large wall-paintings in Shanxi and Hebei attributable to extensive restorations by the Yongle emperor (1403-24).
- On display (G33/od)
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- From Eumorfopoulos and Binyon 1927:
This wall painting was obtained in 1925 by W. M. Weinberger, a member of the firm Franck and Co. of Camomile Street, and purchased by Eumorfopoulos who donated it to the British Museum.
- Registration number