Monday, June 26, 2017

A 3-D digital scan throws a Buddha statue’s carvings into sharp relief

By Madeleine Buckley
What makes this sixth-century Chinese object, the Cosmic Buddha, exceptional are the detailed narrative scenes that cover its surface, representing moments in the life of the historical Buddha as well as the Realms of Existence, a symbolic map of the Buddhist world.
WASHINGTON---For nearly nine decades, the Cosmic Buddha statue stood alone at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art. Museum-goers would pass by the headless, handless statue, a relic of sixth-century China, without a second glance. “It is a difficult sculpture to love because it’s so complicated,” he said. “It’s not sensuous. It’s not a beautiful, white marble surface.” Yet, as an expert in ancient Chinese objects, he understood the major religious and historic implications of those scenes carved on the form-fitting robe depicting Buddhism’s six realms of existence, from the heavenly realm of the devas at the top to the hot and cold hells of the dead at the bottom. [More]
The Buddha Vairochana (Pilushena) statue, known also as the “Cosmic Buddha” was originally recovered from Henan province in China and belongs to the Northern Qi dynasty (550 – 577 AD), an era of great artistic transformation and religious expression.