© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

The blue pigment in the hair of this bodhisattva, the prominent white halo, and the magnificent robes and jewelry all attest to this bodhisattva’s elevated status. Fragmentary elements of other figures at the right and left edges of this scene indicate that this bodhisattva was originally part of a group of figures arrayed around a central Buddha, and in fact, that Buddha remains in situ today, depicted in the midst of preaching. One of the Buddha’s disciples, the youthful Ananda, stood between him and the bodhisattva, while four members of the group of Eight Devas and Dragons,wrathful celestial beings dedicated to protecting the Buddha and his teachings, surrounded him. Traces of these figures’ armor are visible in the upper reaches of this mural section.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Bust of an Attendant Bodhisattva (from the south wall of Mogao Cave 320, Dunhuang, Gansu province)
Work Type
mural painting
early 8th century
Creation Place: East Asia, China, Gansu province, Dunhuang
Tang dynasty, 618-907
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
Section of a wall painting; polychromy on unfired clay
painting proper (irregular): H. 37.8 x W. 29.2 cm (14 7/8 x 11 1/2 in.)
framed: H. 73.7 x W. 58.4 x D. 3.5 cm (29 x 23 x 1 3/8 in.)
From Mogao Cave 320, 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
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Publication History

Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 25, p. 31

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Art Museums" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 2004), Unpublished, passim

Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 34, repr.

Exhibition History

Re-View: S228-230 Arts of Asia, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/31/2008 - 06/01/2013

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

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