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Merchants trading in Silk Road goods, South and Central Asian Buddhist proselytizers, and pilgrims who had traveled to India to study Buddhism at its source brought countless paintings, scriptures, and small bronze sculptures to China and Tibet. These later served as the inspirations for works commissioned by local patrons. Few early Chinese and Tibetan bronze sculptures, and even fewer Indian prototypes, survive, as later generations melted them down to make coins, weapons, or new icons. The fine statues on display here may have been objects of devotion that were set in portable shrines, like the Korean example in the case to the right, for worship in lay people’s homes.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Buddha in Abhaya-mudra Seated on a Lion Throne
Work Type
sculpture, figurine
dated 484
Creation Place: East Asia, China
Six Dynasties period, Northern Wei dynasty, 386-534
Level 1, Room 1610, Buddhist Sculpture, Buddhism and Early East Asian Buddhist Art
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Gilt bronze
H. 37.0 x W. 16.0 x D. 11.5 cm (14 9/16 x 6 5/16 x 4 1/2 in.)
Grenville L. Winthrop, New York (by 1943), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Publication History

Hugo Munsterberg, Buddhist Bronzes of the Six Dynasties Period, Artibus Asiae (1946), Vol. IX, fasc. 4, pp. 296-297, pl. 7

Dorothy W. Gillerman, Gridley McKim-Smith, and Joan R. Mertens, Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1969), no. 064, pp. 74-75

W. Chie Ishibashi, "East Asian Buddhist Bronzes: A Comparative Analytical Study and a Preliminary Report" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, August 1977), Unpublished, passim

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.18, p. 25

Leopold Swergold, Thoughts on Chinese Buddhist Gilt Bronzes (n.p., 2014), p. 22, ill. p. 23

Exhibition History

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

32Q: 1610 Buddhist Art I, 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