Length: 4 1/2 inches, 11.5 cm
Height: 3 inches, 7.6 cm

Fragmentary limestone head of Buddha

China, Northern Qi or Sui dynasty, 6th or 7th century

A fragmentary sculpture of the head of Buddha.  The limestone fragment shows an aquiline nose with slightly slanted eyes to either side, above a sensuous mouth with Cupid bow lips.  On the left side, an ear with a long pendulous earlobe is visible.

In the absence of any clothing and jewellery, it is difficult to date this fragmentary head of the Buddha with great precision, but the remaining stylistic elements point to a 6th or early 7th century date.  The present fragment is closely comparable to a limestone head of Buddha from the Aurora Foundation Collection, which is said to have come from Shandung province and is dated to the Northern Qi dynasty (550 – 577).1   It can also be compared to a limestone head of Bodhisattva from the Ching-ya T’ang collection, which is dated Sui dynasty (581 – 617).2

Provenance:  private collection, Asia

  1. National Palace Museum, Taipei, The Art Of Contemplation – Religious Sculpture from Private Collections, Taipei 1997, no. 40, p. 135
  2. National Palace Museum, Taipei, op. cit, no. 62, p. 165