The most beautiful Buddhist sculpture in Beijing

The most beautiful Buddhist sculpture in Beijing

It is the «Stone sculpture of the Sakyamuni Buddha with two guardians», which is in the Capital Museum of Beijing.

It is dated in the Northern Wei Dynasty, in the 23rd year of the Emperor Taihe (499 AD)

This statue is the largest surviving early Buddhist sculpture in the Beijing area. The main figure is the Buddha Sakyamuni, who stands barefoot with his head up, wears a robe covering his right shoulder and a monk’s skirt, with a robust and imposing body, which is a distinctive feature of the statues of the Taihe period of the North Wei.

On both sides of the main statue are two Bodhisattvas who act as his assistants. They are also barefoot, standing and holding the palms of their hands together in prayer. They show serene expressions, an elaborate headdress and a halo of sanctity around their heads.

Behind them, in the background, there is a large stone canvas in the shape of a boat. The top has twelve small Buddha statues that make a halo around the Buddha’s head, and a second, outermost halo is decorated with twelve more elaborate images. In the center, on the head of the saint, a winged figure, at its most side, with two assistants, and at the two sides a group of dancers with musical instruments.

Buddhist sculpture

The lower part has the inscription of the statue and the name of the donor. Another side border shows three more dancers on each side. With their feet and hands in movement, and with skirts of different colors, they give a dynamic note to the work.

The antiquity of this statue has been much debated, because while its main style indicates without any doubt that it was carved during the Taihe period of the Northern Wei Dynasty, the headdress of the main figure, the pattern of the clothing, the shape of the two Bodhisattvas attending on both sides, and the decorative carvings that are part of the background are inconsistent with the style of the time. Experts believe that these elements were added during a restoration carried out after the Northern Wei Dynasty, following the iconographic patterns of the time.

Buddhist sculpture

The statue was originally located in the village of Che’erying, in the Haidian district, and is currently on display at the Beijing Capital Museum.

To cite this post: Ceinos-Arcones, Pedro, "The most beautiful Buddhist sculpture in Beijing," in Ethnic China, 31 diciembre 2020, https://ethnic-china.com/the-most-beautiful-buddhist-sculpture-in-beijing/.

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