Dry lacquer

Overall: 44 x 37 cm (17 5/16 x 14 9/16 in.)

Given in memory of Howard Parmelee Eells, Jr. by his wife, Adele Chisholm Eells 1983.86

Did you know?

While lacquer is tough and impervious to insects, it is less durable than wooden or stone sculptures, so this is a rare surviving Tang example.


The bodhisattva, an enlightened being dedicated to the spiritual awakening of all beings, is shown sitting in a relaxed pose, the eyes half-closed in an expression of profound meditation. The statue is modeled in a sensuous manner.

It is made using the dry lacquer technique whereby a clay core is first constructed and then overlaid with fabrics saturated with lacquer. Once the lacquer layers are set, the core is removed. This kind of hollow dry lacquer statue is lightweight and easy to carry.

The piece once suffered from severe surface retouching that distorted its original beauty. The museum's conservation work has removed coats of overpainting and over-restoration, revealing the true appearance of the glossy black lacquered surface with traces of cut-gold decoration and pigments.

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