The teaching gesture made by this figure, in which the thumb of the right hand touches the little finger of the left, identifies him as Vairocana, a transcendent manifestation of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni who played an important role in certain early esoteric traditions that grew increasingly popular in China in the eighth century. The unusual wheel-like configuration at the bottom suggests that this sculpture may once have been encased within five lotus petals that could open and close.
[ Tonying & Co. , 1943; sold to MMA]
Tokyo National Museum. "Treasured Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," August 9, 1972–October 1, 1972.
Kyoto Municipal Museum. "Treasured Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 8, 1972–November 26, 1972.
Nara National Museum. "Nihon Bukkyō bijutsu no genryū," April 29, 1978–June 11, 1978.
New York. Asia House Gallery. "The Ideal Image: The Gupta Sculptural Tradition and its Influence," October 5, 1978–December 3, 1978.
Tokyo National Museum. "Special Exhibition: Gilt Bronze Buddhist Statues - China, Korea, Japan," March 10, 1987–April 19, 1987.
New York. Asia Society. "The Story of a Painting: The Korean Buddhist Treasure from the Burke Foundation," April 23, 1991–July 28, 1991.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arts of Ancient China," 2005.