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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.0250
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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Description
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 brick depicts a bodhisattva standing with his right hand in the gesture of teaching. The figure wears an elaborate headdress, bracelets around the wrists and a long scarf that encircles the torso. A leaf- shaped mandorla frames the head and echoes the shape of the top of the niche. It is rare for such architectural fragments to survive from the Northern Wei period. - (AM.0250)

 

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