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A Northern Wei Fragmentary Bodhisattva - EQ.020
Circa: 386 AD to 534 AD

Additional Information: SOLD

Location: United States
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This piece depicts a fragment of a bodhisattva carved in high relief. It dates to a time of unprecedented artistic development that surrounded the period of China’s unification in 439 AD, under the Northern Wei (or Tuoba Wei). The rulers of the dynasty seem to have originated from the Tuoba clan of the non-Han Xianbei tribe, and later renamed themselves the Yuans. Buddhism was first introduced to China from the Indian subcontinent along the trade routes of Central Asia during the early years of the Han dynasty. However it faced two powerful competing ideologies, Confucianism and Daoism, which initially impeded its progress. When the Northern Wei, a foreign nomadic people, conquered parts of China in the late fourth century Buddhism was flourishing. Bodhisattvas were often depicted in pairs around a central image of the Buddha. These enlightened beings choose to delay their entry into Nirvana in order to help others attain enlightenment. Although Buddhist texts do not specify their gender, Chinese examples are generally depicted as male until the end of the Song Dynasty (1279), when they begin to assume a feminine appearance. Bodhisattvas can usually be differentiated from Buddha figures on the basis of their decorative appearance; Buddhas are invariably depicted in plainer raiment that reflects their ascetic lifestyle. - (EQ.020)


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