Western Paradise of the Buddha Amitabha

citation

High relief carving of Western Paradise. Amitabha presides over a lotus pond that contains flowers opening to reveal newborn souls. Numerous deities and celestial attendants fill in the tableau.

Historical period(s)
Northern Qi dynasty, 550-577
Medium
Limestone with traces of pigment
Dimensions
H x W: 159.3 x 334.5 cm (62 11/16 x 131 11/16 in)
Geography
China, Hebei province, Fengfeng, southern Xiangtangshan, Cave 2
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
F1921.2
On View Location
Freer Gallery 17: Promise of Paradise: Ancient Chinese Buddhist Sculpture
Classification(s)
Sculpture, Stone
Type

Sculpture

Keywords
abhaya mudra, Amitabha Buddha, Avalokitesvara, bodhisattva, Buddhism, cave, China, lotus, Mahasthamaprapta, meditation, Northern Qi dynasty (550 - 577), Pure Land, relief, sutra, temple, throne, tree
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Lai-Yuan and Company

Description

High relief carving of Western Paradise. Amitabha presides over a lotus pond that contains flowers opening to reveal newborn souls. Numerous deities and celestial attendants fill in the tableau.

Label

The Buddha of Infinite Light (Sanskrit, Amitabha), is lord of the Pure Land called the Western Paradise. Devotees believe that absolute faith in Amitabha entitles a person to be reborn in that paradise. In this mural, Amitabha presides over a pond and welcomes newly reborn souls who emerge from within lotus blossoms. This mural is among the earliest known depictions of the Western Paradise in Chinese art. It is from the Southern Xiangtangshan Buddhist cave-temple site, Cave 2. The Xiangtangshan caves were located close to the city of Ye, the capital of the Northern Qi dynasty. Their carving was an imperially sponsored project. A related object in the Freer collection is F1921.1.

Published References
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 78, p. 172.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 38.
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 70-71.
  • Sonya S. Lee. Surviving Nirvana: Death of the Buddha in Chinese Visual Culture. Hong Kong. pp. 161-164, fig. 3.18.
  • Dorothy C. Wong. Chinese Steles: Pre-Buddhist and Buddhist Use of Symbolic Form. Honolulu. p. 163, fig. 10.10.
  • , Li Song, Wu Hung, Yang Hong. Chinese Sculpture. The Culture & Civilization of China New Haven. p. 280, figs. 3-83.
  • Shakyamuni and Shinran. Exh. cat. Japan. p. 94, fig. 104.
  • Studies of Heian Period Gardens. no. 17, Japan. p. 204.
  • Jerome Ducor Helen Loveday. La Sutra des Contemplations du Buddha Vie-Infinie. Biblioteques de l'ecole des Hautes etudes sciences religieuses 14S, . p. 277, fig. 19.
  • Patricia Eichenbaum Karetzky. Making Sense of Buddhist Art & Architecture. London. .
  • p. 27, fig. 1-2.
  • p. 27, fig. 2.4.
  • pp. 36-37.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum

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