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Marble figure of Buddha Amitabha
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Two of the largest objects in the Museum are religious images. This huge marble statue of the Buddha Amitabha is almost 6 metres tall and originally stood in a temple in northern China. It was erected by the first emperor of the Sui dynasty, Wendi, who converted to Buddhism and encouraged its spread throughout China.

Wendi distributed Buddhist relics throughout his empire and was responsible for the creation and repair of many religious images. In Buddhist teaching, Amitabh rules over the Weatern Paradise, a heavenly land into which all who call upon his name will be reborn.

The hands are missing, but the right hand would have been raised, palm outwards, in the gesture of reassurance (abhaya mudra) and the left hand lowered in the gesture of liberality (varada mudra). The figure is very solid with crisply carved drapery in flat folds, typical of the Sui period.

Marble figure of Buddha Amitabha

Dedicated at Chongguang temple, Hancui village, Hebei province, northern China, Sui dynasty, AD 585.
Ht 580 cm.
Gift of the Chinese Government in memory of the Chinese Exhibition in London 1935-36.

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