Archive | May, 2011

Chinese Buddhist sculpture and Fakes

Dear Reader, This will be my first post here about what has become a new passion of mine, early Chinese Buddhist Sculpture dating from the Wei to the Tang Dynasties, from about 400 to 900 A.D.. I have always admired examples when I came across them, but not knowing that much about the period and type, paid them little mind other than that. My first encounter with one of these sculptures was at Harvard, a 6th Century A.D. marble bodhisattva, see below, which I found beautiful not only for its quality of carving and elegant style, but remarkable for its preservation as it had extensive color and gilding remaining. Standing BodhisattvaChinese, 6th Century A.D.White marble with polychromy, Height: 36 1/2 inches.Harvard Art Museums Harvard, thanks largely to the Grenville Winthrop bequest, and more recently the Sackler gifts, has a wonderful collection of ancient Chinese art, with many fine examples of early Buddhist sculpture. But I went on for most of my life looking at, and dealing in Classical antiquities; the art of Ancient Greece, Rome […]

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Chinese Buddhist Sculptures; their purpose and function

Dear Reader,Following up on the last post about Chinese Buddhist Sculpture and Fakes, I am now going into the purpose and function of these beautiful works of art.As many of my readers are aware, but some may not be, Buddhism believes that the world is illusion and the source of suffering, that desire is the cause of pain, and to transcend the world and escape from the world is the highest good. Buddha, through meditation and his middle path, arrived at through years of different practices, attained nirvana, the state of full release from this world. Such an unworldly religion would seem to be antithetical to the creation of art, and for the first few centuries it was aniconic, with no images of the Buddha per se, his presence was represented by a footprint, the wheel of Dharma, the Bodhi Tree under which he attained enlightenment, and an empty throne. It was only in the Gandhara, which was influenced by Greece and Rome as Alexander the Great had gotten that far into India and ties […]

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