Object: Statuette

E_1955_18_18

E/1955/18/18
Ivory Carving of Buddha
Dynastic China
ca. Qing Dynasty 1644-1949
Materials: ivory, red stain

This object is a small, carved statuette of Buddha. It came from dynastic China and was collected sometime during the Qing Dynasty between 1644 and 1949. It is probably carved from elephant ivory. The figure depicts Buddha seated on lotus petals, holding a small ball in his left hand. This object has also been stained red. Ever since China was introduced to Buddhism by way of India during the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), the depiction of Buddha has become a major theme in Chinese art.

The elements of the statue and the Buddha figure can be linked to Buddhist beliefs. The main focus of Buddhism is to rid oneself of desire, which can lead to suffering, and become an enlightened person of the world. The ivory figure reflects this as the dot on the statue’s head represents wisdom and all-seeing power. The figure is positioned on lotus petals. Lotus flowers are a symbol of things that are pure and good because they grow out of water and mud to become beautiful pink flowers. Buddhist beliefs suggest that Buddhist followers, like lotus flowers, can rise above ugliness to achieve enlightenment. The figure is depicted in a meditative stance. In Buddhism, the way for followers to achieve enlightenment is to pray and meditate. [Brittany Teel]

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Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

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