Chan Patriarch Bodhidharma

Period: Ming dynasty (1368–1644)

Date: 17th century

Culture: China

Medium: Porcelain with ivory glaze (Dehua ware)

Dimensions: H. 11 3/4 in. (29.8 cm); W. 7 1/2 (19 cm); D. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Winthrop W. Aldrich, Mrs. Arnold Whitridge, and Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse, 1963

Accession Number: 63.176


Bodhidharma (Damo in Chinese), the foreign monk credited with founding the Chan (or Zen) tradition of East Asian Buddhism, is here identified by his bald head, meditative posture, and monastic clothing. He is first mentioned in mid-sixth-century writings, and has been alternatively described as both Central Asian and South Indian. He is renowned for having spent nine years meditating in a cave before another monk convinced him to transmit the practice of Chan.