It was during the Northern Wei dynasty that Buddhism was introduced to China – an introduction which rooted itself firmly in the cultural fabric of China. Over 30,000 Buddhist images dating from the Northern Wei dynasty have been found to date. They attest the abrupt changes and developments in Buddhist sculptural images occurred during this period, which saw the gradual replacement of foreign-derived iconography with Buddhist imagery influenced by the Chinese artistic tradition.
Chinese Northern Wei Brick with Buddha
A Northern Wei terracotta rectangular brick displaying the finely moulded nimbate image of a Buddha or bodhisattva, shown standing under a chaitya arch. The figure is depicted wearing a long robe with carved folds to the garment, emphasised by the excellent retention of the original deep red and bright orange pigments. He is performing a mudra, a ritualistic pose or gesture which holds a symbolic meaning in Buddhism. Most mudras are performed with hands and fingers but some also involve the whole body. Facial features, such as eyes and eyebrows, feature a calm, contemplative expression and are rendered through delicate streaks of black paint, while the lips are painted in bright red. His hair is kept by a head band and fall softly on his shoulders.
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Period: Northern Wei
Provenance: From a Hong Kong collection of Buddhist art formed in the 1990s.
Condition: Good condition with excellent retention of the original pigmentation. The top right corner is now missing, some earthy encrustations remain on the surface.