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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.0251
Origin: China
Circa: 386 AD to 534 AD
Dimensions: 12.5" (31.8cm) high x 6.25" (15.9cm) wide
Collection: Chinese Art
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 rectangular niche. The brick depicts a seated Buddhist figure with the left arm raised and the right held just below waist level. The drapery clings to the body in curved folds. It is rare for such architectural fragments to survive from the Northern Wei period. - (AM.0251)


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