A removable panel in the back of this image gives access to a hollow interior that would have been filled with offerings at the time of the piece’s consecration. The interior surface of the panel bears a date (1282) and a small bronze mirror that functioned as a protective talisman.
The bodhisattva has a rounded physique and stands in a slightly twisting pose, which creates a sense of depth. Both conventions attest to the introduction of Indo-Himalayan sculptural traditions in China in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when the Mongols controlled both China and parts of Tibet. The elaborate coiffure also derives from these traditions.
Inscription: Dated [on inside of back block]: Da yuan guo zhi yuan shi jiu nian si yue geng yin shuo nian ri (The Great Yüan State, Zhiyüan period, 19th year, 4th month, 20th day [this date concords with May 28, 1282]).
Probably Hebei Province
[ Ralph M. Chait Galleries, Inc. , 1934; sold to MMA]
New York. Asia House Gallery. "Chinese Art Under the Mongols," January 9, 1969–February 2, 1969.
Portland Art Museum. "Masterworks in Wood: Japan and China," November 2, 1976–December 5, 1976.
New York. Asia House Gallery. "Masterworks in Wood: Japan and China," January 15, 1977–March 20, 1977.
New York. China Institute in America. "Treasures from the Metropolitan Museum," October 24, 1979–January 27, 1980.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Weber Galleries Reinstallation," October 14, 1998–March 19, 2010.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The World of Khubilai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty," September 28, 2010–January 2, 2011.