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HOME : Chinese Art : Yuan Dynasty : Yuan Dynasty Sandstone 'Buddha' Head
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Yuan Dynasty Sandstone 'Buddha' Head - DL.994
Origin: China
Circa: 1260 AD to 1368 AD
Dimensions: 7.50" (19.1cm) high x 6.10" (15.5cm) 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.

The historical figure, Buddha Gautama Sakyamuni is the Buddha of compassion who, having achieved the highest evolutionary perfection, turns suffering into happiness for all living beings. Born around 560 B.C. somewhere between the hills of south Nepal and the Rapti river, his father was a Raja who ruled over the northeastern province of India, the district including the holy Ganges River. The young prince was married to Yashoda when he was about 17 years old and together they had a son named Rahula. At the age of 29, he left his life of luxury, feeling compelled to purify his body and make it an instrument of the mind by ridding himself of earthly impulses and temptations. Chinese Buddhist art is heavily influenced both by earlier Indian examples and the stylistic tendencies of the Central Asian cultures who brought the religion into China.

This exceptional sandstone head is from a temple in Sichuan Province. The Buddha has a round, full face suggestive of his spiritual fulfillment. An inner calm and complacency is visible on his face, in his closed eyelids and in his sweet smile. His elongated right earlobe droops down, the sagging caused by wearing heavy earrings as an infant, reflecting his royal origins. His left earlobe is concealed by the remains of a hand placed against the side of the head. This fragment was most likely originally part of a full-figure sculpture once revered inside a temple or shrine. The mystical energy and divine wisdom of the Buddha radiates from within this sculpture. (AM) - (DL.994)


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