Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577 CE)
Reference #: C2051
Height: 25 ¼ inches (64.1 cm.)
The grey limestone, standing figure rendered with the right arm raised and the left arm lowered, probably originally in abahaya and varada mudra, dressed in a thin robe that falls in carved folds down the body and shows remnants of red and white pigment.
This torso of Buddha clearly relates to a group discovered in 1996 at the Longxing Temple in Qingzhou, Shangdong province. Like the Qingzhou sculptures, the present piece is finely rendered in the Northern Qi sculptural style. Broad shouldered with a slender torso, the figure is dressed in a thin garment that clings to the body, both concealing and revealing the shape beneath. The figures unearthed at Qingzhou are also painted in red and white and gilt, with some also embellished with figural scenes.
In the informative catalogue published with the excavation of the Qingzhou hoard much of the Northern Qi sculptural style is attributed to external influences. In particular, the type of thin kasaya (robe) is thought to have originated in Central India and was worn during the Indian Gupta Dynasty of the fourth century. While the previous Northern Wei Dynasty embraced Han traditions, the Northern Qi rulers resisted the Han policies of the Northern Wei. Embracing Indian Buddhist images of the sixth century, the Northern Qi rulers promoted the sculptural style that was indebted more to the art of central Asia and India than to its Chinese predecessors.