Silk and gold thread on silk satin ground, embroidery
Overall: 43.8 x 19.5 cm (17 1/4 x 7 11/16 in.); Mounted: 56.8 x 31.8 cm (22 3/8 x 12 1/2 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1991.2
The bodhisattva is flanked by two columns, each topped with a makara, a fanciful water creature whose tail becomes lotus scrolls forming an arch over the bodhisattva.
In remarkably pristine condition, this embroidery is from a dispersed set that included images of protectors and bodhisattvas. The embroidery technique and pictorial style are Chinese, but the subject matter and the type of devotional hanging called a thangka are associated with Tibetan Buddhism. Historical records state that during the early Ming dynasty (1368–1644), gifts of Buddhist art were sent from China to Tibet, since relationships between Chinese rulers and Tibetan monastic patriarchs were strong and amicable during this time. A Tibetan inscription on the back notes that this figure is the “seventh bodhisattva,” indicating the position in which it would have hung in a temple hall. Odd-numbered works were hung on one side of the main image, and even-numbered works on the other, counting from the center.
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