front © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Among the most serene images of the Buddha ever carved, this white marble sculpture features the fleshy oval face, with small eyes and short nose, that became a hallmark of the style of the Northern Qi dynasty, which controlled northern China in the late sixth century and heavily patronized Buddhism. The plump face and wavy hair, and the circular design on the head, anticipate the Tang dynasty style of a century later. Although the small, half-closed eyes suggest that the Buddha is lost in meditation, painted details would have given them a particular focus, so that the Buddha would have seemed more engaged with the world. In addition, a large-scale sculpture of this type would have been placed slightly above the viewer, so that the Buddha would appear to look down benevolently into the raised gaze of the supplicant.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Head of a Buddha
Work Type
head, sculpture
550 - 577
Creation Place: East Asia, China, Hebei province
Six Dynasties period, Northern Qi dynasty, 550-577
Level 1, Room 1610, Buddhist Sculpture, Buddhism and Early East Asian Buddhist Art
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
White marble. From Dingzhou, Hebei province.
H. 36 x W. 25 x D. 21.5 cm (14 3/16 x 9 13/16 x 8 7/16 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
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.
Exhibition History

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