Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Buddhist Ceremonial Alms Bowl

Nara period (710–794)
Gilt bronze
H. 5 in. (12.7 cm); Diam. 9 1/4 in. (23.5 cm); Diam. of rim 9 in. (22.9 cm)
Credit Line:
The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975
Accession Number:
Not on view
Along with three garments, a stool, and a water strainer, the alms bowl was traditionally one of only six items that a Buddhist monk could own. While monks’ bowls were most often made of iron or wood, this bowl—cast in bronze, finished on a lathe, gilded, and supplied with a low stand—was probably placed on a Buddhist altar, where it would have been filled with offerings for a Buddhist deity. Its swelling body and the slight inward curve of its rim are typical of bowls produced in the eighth century.
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