Overall: 77.5 x 44.4 cm (30 1/2 x 17 1/2 in.)
Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1914.567
Traces of polychrome paints remaining in the interstices of the carving, particularly on the foliate carving around Shakyamuni, suggest the stele was originally brightly colored.
According to the inscription, this stele was commissioned in 537 by Yuan'ning, prince of the Gaoping branch of the imperial Wei family, in memory of his deceased consort, in the hope that it would bring her to the Western paradise. It was carved by one of the finest craftsmen in the Eastern Wei capital of Ye in Hebei province.
Here, the Buddha's robe shows a careful arrangement of patterned drapery (large U-shaped folds and scallop-shaped folds at the hem), combining linear rhythms with an ordered symmetry. Soaring flames edge the mandorla (almond-shaped halo), echoing the linear eloquence of Chinese painting.
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