Following the video about the Buddha head with a fragmentary halo, here is more about halos in early Chinese Buddhist sculpture, and the origins of the halo in religious art.
A look at a small head of a Buddha that preserves a fragment of the halo that was originally behind the head. It is a small gem of a piece, one of my personal favorites.
A look at a beautiful Chinese, Northern Wei head of a Bodhisattva and its beatific and enigmatic smile, with references to other cultures and periods, including our own. The slight smile is seen in the art of many human cultures, and signifies secret knowledge and wisdom, as well as the peace that comes from that.
About the bi disks, mysterious and beautiful jade disks from Neolithic China.
People coming into the gallery often comment on the feeling they get from the Buddhist sculptures, and in fact that was the purpose of this art. This brings us to a paradox of Buddhist images, for originally Buddhism was aniconic, focused on the disciplines of meditation and release from the material world. How were these images explained in Buddhism, and what role did they serve? These are the questions we ask in this video, which will be one of a series. We pull in pop culture references to help illustrate the power that these images are meant to contain.
When I first purchased this delicate, thin walled stemmed cup, I was unclear as to where or when it was made. I had no doubt it was ancient, and it reminded me of Etruscan black bucchero ware. However, it is much finer than Etruscan bucchero ware, and I discovered that it is in fact Chinese, and Neolithic in date, about 5,000 years old. It is an amazing object.
A look at a beautiful Chinese bronze Hu vessel, inlaid with copper, and dating to the Warring States Period, 475 – 221 B.C. What is amazing about this piece is the use of copper to inlay into the bronze, related materials that we do not consider precious today, but was treated as a precious material by the ancient Chinese. The amount of technical skill and labor to inlay the thin pieces of copper into precisely cut depressions is quite remarkable and we are able to see it clearly in this video.
A look at a beautiful Chinese jade sash buckle of a fierce monster mask. Dating to the Han to Six Kingdoms period, the image is very much like protective monster faces from Buddhist monuments of the Wei to Zhou periods, and brings up a wonderful Hindu myth of the god Shiva.
I usually post about places I go and what I see, however, I do buy objects from time to time, and am going to post about them as well, when so moved. I am moved at the moment by one of my latest purchases, a small white jade carving of a bear with pendulous human breasts. While a strange subject, the carving is compelling, it is an intense concentrated work of art. Standing just under two inches (48 mm) high, it is quite small, but incredibly finely carved with great attention to detail. The fur ruffs on the limbs and edge of jaw are incised with fine lines, the teeth are individually carved and even the tongue is freed, reaching from the bottom of the mouth to touch the palate in a fierce open expression. Most strange are the breasts, which are pushed together between its paws, as if being presented. Interestingly the piece is drilled through from the top of the head through its bottom, and may have been worn as a bead or […]