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HOME : Chinese Art : Yuan Dynasty : Yuan Dynasty Sandstone 'Bodhisattva' Head
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Yuan Dynasty Sandstone 'Bodhisattva' Head - DL.993
Origin: China
Circa: 1260 AD to 1368 AD
Dimensions: 10" (25.4cm) high x 6.75" (17.1cm) wide
Collection: Chinese
Medium: Sandstone
Condition: Extra Fine

Location: UAE
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The Yuan Dynasty was established by Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, upon relocating the capital of his empire from Mongolia to Beijing. The Forbidden City was constructed, a relative oasis of Mongolian culture in the heart of China. While the Mongol elite retained their native language and customs, they did adopt the Chinese system of bureaucratic government and cemented the authoritarian rule of the emperor. Although they were relatively unaffected by Chinese culture, the Yuan did little to stifle the native traditions and beliefs of their subjects. Buddhism continued to flourish, although the monasteries received little funding from the state. In fact, during the Yuan Dynasty, China first began to open up to foreigners. Christian and Hindu missionaries arrived in Beijing and Marco Polo made his famous journey during the Yuan era. While the Chinese never accepted the Yuan as a legitimate dynasty, instead viewing them as foreign bandits, the Mongolians rebelled against the Beijing Khans for becoming, “too Chinese.” In the end, the Yuan Dynasty had the shortest duration of the major Chinese Dynasties, lasting little more than a hundred years.

In the Buddhist religion bodhisattvas are souls who have attained enlightenment and no longer need to reincarnate. Despite this freedom, they choose to forsake nirvana and return to the earthly sphere in order to alleviate the suffering of others. This beautiful Yuan Dynasty sandstone 'bodhisattva' head is from a temple in the 'Sichuan Province'. It is likely that this fragment was once attached to a body, the whole of which probably stood in a niche in the temple. The head is crowned in a magnificent, complex headdress that reveals the figure’s prestigious social stature. The full face, half-open eyes and gentle smile are endearing and remind us of the sacrifice this bodhisattva has made to assist others. (AM) - (DL.993)


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