Porcelain (Dehua ware); H. 11 3/4 in. (29.8 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Winthrop W. Aldrich, Mrs. Arnold Whitridge, and Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse, 1963 (63.176)
Kiln complexes in the vicinity of the town of Dehua in Fujian Province, are the source of a special type of porcelain known in the West as blanc de chine. These wares have an extremely fine-grained vitreous white body, embraced by a thick satiny glaze ranging in tone from milky white to warm ivory to a faint rosy hue. There is a wide variety of blanc de chine vessels, including numerous objects for the writing table, but perhaps the most glamorous of these wares are the figures frequently representing Buddhist or Daoist deities. These ceramic sculptures vary considerably in quality, but at their best they exhibit a brilliance of modeling that raises them to the rank of true masterpieces. There is perhaps no better example than this superb figure of Bodhidharma, the Indian patriarch said to be the founder of Chan (Zen) Buddhism in China. His serene expression and the fluid draping of his robes celebrates the skill of the master craftsmen.