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Shanghai Museum - Table of Contents

Stone sculptures - Shanghai Museum
People's Square, Shanghai, China
Shanghai Museum - Official Website

2013 photos

The Eastern Wei Dynasty ruled northern China from 534 to 550.
The Buddhist art of the Eastern Wei displays a combination of Greco-Buddhist influences from Gandhara and Central Asia (representations of flying figures holding wreaths, Greek-style folds of the drapery), together with Chinese artistic influences. See Chinese Buddhism.
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Detail #2 of 3 - Greek-style folds of drapery

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Gautama Buddha, also known as Siddhārtha Gautama, Shakyamuni, or simply the Buddha. See Chinese Buddhism.

"With his lips slightly bent, Sakyamuni shows a kind smile on his plump face. He has round shoulders and wide chest. His dress was graved into simple and fluent style. On the halo, there are a combination of both sparse fire and dense plant designs surrounding the Buddha, which seems highly decorative and elegant." - Cultural China (online Jan. 2014)

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Note three lotus leaves at bottom center - detailed also below:

Detail #2 of 4 - three lotus leaves

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Mahāsthāmaprāpta, that represents the power of wisdom, is one of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Mahāyāna Buddhism originated in India, and is the largest major tradition of Buddhism existing today In Chinese Buddhism, Mahāsthāmaprāpta is usually portrayed as a woman.

"Bodhisattvas, active deities dedicated to the salvation of mankind have rich ornaments and graceful bodies.  Their mission is to help the believer win relief from the sufferings of this world; by comparison with images of the Buddha their expression is less remote, full of compassion." - Shanghai Museum

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In Buddhism, lokapāla refers to the Four Heavenly Kings, and to other protector spirits.  In Hindu and Buddhist mythology, lokapāla are any of the guardians of the four cardinal directions.

"The Tang dynasty was one of the most brilliant epochs in Chinese ancient civilization. Sculptures of this period emphasized realism. Thus, various human figurines showed well-proportioned build and accurate appearance." - Shanghai Museum (online Jan. 2014)
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Height: 5'6"
Carved Buddha figures each in their own chamber - a practice adapted from cave-temples.  Small figures of the Thousand Buddhas are a symbol of the omnipresence of Buddhahood, or enlightenment.

Buddhist stone tablets known as votive steles were commissioned by pious individuals and families, and erected in temple courtyards and other public spaces.

"The Thousand Buddhas motif, one of the most popular subjects in Northern Wei Buddhist art, flourished in the early sixth century but continued to be popular throughout the sixth century. A Thousand Buddhas stele can also incorporate one or more larger niches with principal icons [as is ween here], adding complexity to the design and content of the monument." - Dorothy C. Wong, Chinese Steles: Pre-Buddhist and Buddhist Use of a Symbolic Form 1/14

Two details below:

Detail #1 of 2.  Note pair of lions at bottom.
"By the second and third quarters of the sixth century, the monumental, complex type of Buddhist stele came into vogue. The principal niche now consisted of a Buddha's assembly of five, seven, nine, or more figures - a Buddha, two bodhisattavas, two disciples, two lokapalas, and in addition, pairs of apsarasas [female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology] and lions."- Dorothy C. Wong, Chinese Steles: Pre-Buddhist and Buddhist Use of a Symbolic Form 1/14

Detail #2 of 2

Photos and their arrangement 2013 Chuck LaChiusa
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