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Gallery Text

This mural section was part of a series of vignettes recounting the recovery of a sculpture of Shakyamuni Buddha believed to have been sponsored by a daughter of the great Indian monarch Ashoka (304–232 BCE) from a river near Yangzhou in the early fourth century. Inscriptions in rectangular cartouches (a fragment of one is visible directly below the skiff) briefly describe each scene of the narrative, which has also been passed down in canonical histories of Chinese Buddhism. The flaming jewels on the tall canopy that covers the Buddha sculpture, together with the fluttering banners that adornthe boat and are held by the assembly of monks nearby, signal the importance of the recovered sculpture and imbue the scene with a sense of celebration.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1924.41
Title
Eight Men Ferrying a Statue of the Buddha (from Mogao Cave 323, Dunhuang, Gansu province)
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
mural painting
Date
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
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Section of a wall painting; polychromy on unfired clay
Dimensions
painting proper (irregular): H. 50.8 x W. 94 cm (20 x 37 in.)
framed: H. 73.7 x W. 114.3 x D. 3.5 cm (29 x 45 x 1 3/8 in.)
Provenance
From Mogao Cave 323, 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
1924.41
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Publication History

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Art Museums" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 2004), Unpublished, passim

Francesca Bewer, A Laboratory for Art: Harvard's Fogg Museum and the Emergence of Conservation in America, 1900-1950, Harvard Art Museum/Yale University Press (Cambridge, MA, 2010), p. 117, fig. 3.18; pp. 118-119, ill. (overleaf)

Exhibition History

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

Subjects and Contexts

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