Stele commissioned by members of a devotional society


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 206

Steles of this type were common in the early sixth century. The inscription on the base dates the work to the year 528 and indicates that a group of seventy individuals commissioned the stele on behalf of the emperor, the country, and various ancestors. As was customary, symbolic portraits of these patrons are arranged hierarchically on the front, sides, and back of the stele. The two most important donors, Li Zhenwang and Yao Langzi, are depicted in small niches at top left and right above the larger niche, which features a central Buddha flanked by bodhisattvas, monks, lions, and guardians. Below the Buddha, acrobats on either side of the kneeling figures suggest the kinds of performances that would have taken place at the dedication of a public monument. Three unidentified royal figures accompanied by attendants are shown in pavilions just above the inscription.

Stele commissioned by members of a devotional society, Limestone with traces of pigment, China

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