Gilt Stucco Buddha Head - H.509
Origin: Northern China
Circa: 1115 AD to 1234 AD
Dimensions: 15" (38.1cm) high
Catalogue: V17
Collection: Chinese
Style: Jin Dynasty
Medium: Guilded Stucco

This head provides a perfect illustration of the elaborate pictorial style that characterizes Buddhist sculpture of the Song period and later. The grace and feminine refinement of features and nose are characteristic of this last sentimental phase of Buddhism during the twelfth century.
An interesting feature of this sculpture is the composition of the Buddha's head-dress which is fashioned in loose, voluminous locks with the cranial protuberance, ushinisha, positioned beneath the summit in the form of a tumorous bulb. On the forehead, the urna consists of a grouping of small bumps, a stylized way of depicting the Buddha's superhuman nature from which emanates the light of wisdom illuminating the universe. The lips are painted red, and patches of gilded surface brighten the center of the face. The serenity in his face is highlighted by the beautiful sculpturing of the face and neck, accentuating the peacefulness in his face. The eyes are lowered in contemplation and the mouth is gently closed in a contented smile. The exquisite precision and depth of carving that give it the vivacity of a painting demonstrate the high skill of artisans working in this medium.
This Buddha has an aura of majesty and seems remote from mundane concerns. Its expressions convey spirituality and withdrawal, yet its warm, smiling mouth tell us that he is not all that removed from humanity. There is an inner unity between the natural structure and its artistic representation combined with perfect beauty and a sense of harmony of balance. The theme of harmony is a larger reflection of the Chinese vision of centrality as a great civilization. - (H.509)