Kneeling Attendant Bodhisattva (From Mogao Cave 328, Dunhuang, Gansu Province)
front; after treatment © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

This clay bodhisattva was one of eight attendant figures — six bodhisattvas and two disciples — surrounding a central sculpture of a seated, preaching Shakyamuni Buddha in an early Tang dynasty cave in the Mogao complex at Dunhuang. With hiscompanions, this figure, captured in a pose of quiet reverence, would have served todirect the worshipper’s attention to the exalted Buddha at center. Unlike the figures from Tianlongshan on display in the first-floor Buddhist gallery, this sculpture was not carved into the stone walls of a cave; rather, it was formed by applying clay mixed with fibers and straw to a wooden armature and allowing it to harden naturally. Damage to the ends of the ribbon-like scarf dangling from the bodhisattva’s arms reveals the cores of bamboo twigs around which the clay mixture was packed. A thin layer of white was used to unify and brighten the clay surface, and select areas were embellished with polychromy and gilding.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1924.70
Title
Kneeling Attendant Bodhisattva (from Mogao Cave 328, Dunhuang, Gansu province)
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
figure, sculpture
Date
late 7th century
Places
Creation Place: East Asia, China, Gansu province, Dunhuang
Period
Tang dynasty, 618-907
Culture
Chinese
Location
Level 2, Room 2740, Buddhist Art, The Efflorescence of East Asian and Buddhist Art
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Unfired clay mixed with fibers and straw modeled over wooden armature; with polychromy and gilding
Dimensions
sight: H. 122 x Diam. approx. 71.1 cm (48 1/16 x 28 in.)
Provenance
From Mogao Cave 328, Dunhuang, Gansu province; acquired during the First Fogg Expedition to China (1923-24) led by Langdon Warner (1881-1955)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, First Fogg Expedition to China (1923-1924)
Accession Year
1924
Object Number
1924.70
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
Publication History

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), no. 26, p. 31

James Cuno, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, Harvard University Art Museums/Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), pp. 56-57

Sanchita Balachandran, "Research into the Collecting and Conservation History of Chinese Wall Paintings from Dunhuang in the Harvard University Art Museums" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 2004), Unpublished, passim

Jacqueline M. Moore and Rebecca Woodward Wendelken, ed., Teaching the Silk Road, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY, 2010), p. 94, fig. 6.5.

Exhibition History

Re-View: S228-230 Arts of Asia, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/31/2008 - 11/23/2008

32Q: 2740 Buddhist II, Harvard Art Museums, 11/01/2014

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu