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Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva

Unidentified Artist Qing dynasty

Period:
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Date:
late 17th–early 18th century
Culture:
China
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Dimensions:
81 3/4 x 38 1/2 in. (207.6 x 97.8 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of the Estate of Lilian Genth, 1953
Accession Number:
53.130.1
  • Description

    About 1900 the French Sinologist Paul Pelliot acquired a large group of paintings in Beijing that had come from a Qing imperial repository. Included in that group was a partial set of paintings that were created for the Water-Land ritual, a Buddhist mortuary ceremony conducted for the salvation of all the souls of the dead, whether on land or at sea. This painting may have come from the same set.

    A cartouche in the upper right corner of the composition identifies the deity portrayed here as Mahasthamaprapta (Dashizhi, in Chinese), a bodhisattva or enlightened being whose name means "one who has attained great power." Seated on a strikingly realistic lion mount and accompanied by a female attendant bearing a pearl, the bodhisattva holds the stem of a lotus with two blossoms that appear above his shoulders, one supporting a pearl, the other a thunderbolt-like implement (vajra). His right hand forms the mudra for charity. Most likely, this painting would have been displayed as part of a triptych together with an image of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin) and a central image of the Amitabha (Miluo) Buddha.

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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
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