The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery houses part of the Museum's holdings of Chinese Buddhist sculpture, the largest collection of its kind in the West. (Additional examples are featured in Gallery 208.) Elegant bronze icons, monumental stone sculptures, and colorful sculptures made of wood, clay, and lacquer illustrate China's complicated adaptation of the Indian religion of Buddhism. Early Chinese Buddhist sculpture often shows ties to Indian and Central Asian traditions; after the twelfth century, however, when Buddhism disappeared in India, Chinese sculptures often illustrate exchanges with artistic traditions from Nepal and Tibet.
Highlights of the collection include several monumental stone sculptures, a nearly lifesize gilt-bronze sculpture of Buddha Maitreya dated 486, an example of a seventh-century piece made using the dry lacquer technique, and rare and important wood sculptures with inscriptions dating to 1282 and 1385.