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HOME : Chinese Art : Northern Dynasties : Northern Wei Brick from a Buddhist Shrine
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Northern Wei Brick from a Buddhist Shrine - AM.0245
Origin: China
Circa: 386 AD to 534 AD
Dimensions: 12.5" (31.8cm) high x 6.25" (15.9cm) wide
Collection: Chinese Art
Style: Northern Wei Dynasty
Medium: Clay

Location: Great Britain
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The period of the Northern Wei dynasty was crucial to the development of Buddhist art in China. Prior to this there was a heavy reliance on foreign-derived models, especially from India, the birthplace of Buddhism. During the fifth and sixth centuries Chinese artists began to experiment and produced new styles unique to the region. This was made possible because the Northern Wei dynasty lent its support to the Buddhist faith. The cave sites at Yungang and Longmen attest to the flourishing of Buddhist piety and it has been estimated that by the sixth century there were over 30,000 monasteries in Northern China. Multiple images of the Buddha and his attendants were carved in stone, wood and clay.

This rectangular brick tile comes from a large group that probably formed the interior wall of a religious foundation or shrine. It is moulded from a dark grey clay that was fired and then painted. Traces of the original red pigment are still visible in the niche. The image of a bodhisattva with hands clasped in a gesture of prayer and devotion stands within the frame. The head is surrounded by a leaf-shaped mandorla. It is unusual for this type of architectural fragment to survive from such an early period and it will appeal to all those fascinated by the history of Buddhism. - (AM.0245)


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