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ID number:  BIRBI-43.3
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker:  Chinese, c.10th/11th century
Title / Object name:  Head of a Boddhisattva
Object type:  Sculpture
Culture:  Chinese
Date made:  10th-11th century
Materials:  Limestone, with traces of paint
Measurements:  58.4 cm high
Provenance:  Purchased from the United Aid to China Fund, March 1943, for £75

Probably a fragment of a full-length statue, this head is crowned with three figures, the central one of which is Buddha, seated on a lotus throne. In Buddhist religion, a Bodhisattva is one who has attained the transcendent wisdom of the Buddha but remains in the world. Motivated by compassion for earthly existence and by a desire to help suffering humanity, they choose not to enter the final nirvana and, instead, serve as supporters or intermediaries of the Buddha. The gentle and benevolent features of this head, with its serene smile and downcast eyes, are characteristic of such figures.

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