Buddha Figure

About this object

Narrative

The age and origin of this buddha figure have been under debate during recent years. The sparse documentation for the object indicated that it originated from the Tang Dynasty, in China. A letter recollecting how it came to be associated with the H.P.B. Library, said it was shipped to Victoria from Beijing sometime between 1926 and 1930 by some friends (living in Beijing) of a buddhist woman associated with the library. But, at a later date, two professors of art history (UBC) had thought it might be Nepalese. Then another Asian scholar (a Canada Research Chair in Tibetan religious studies) said in 2006 that the Nepalese didn't work in lacquer so it was more likely Chinese. Another scholar, in 2005, said it looks Japanese and no earlier than the 18th century. She said the style of the head looked very Japanese, and the Chinese didn't do buddhas with overall lacquer. In 2008 another Curator of Asian materials said the buddha "looks very Chinese in style."

Physical description

Buddha, in the position of "calling the earth to witness" (bhumisparsha mudra). Made of lath covered with plaster and fabric, on a wooden base. Finished in gold leaf and lacquer. The hair has textured blue conical shapes and has a top bun. The eyes are looking downward with multiple thin curving lines for the eyebrows above. The face has a closed red mouth and long ear lobes. The body is draped in clothing. The figure sits with crossed legs, left ankle under right ankle, the right hand rests on the right knee and the left hand rests in front, on the right leg, over the left ankle.