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An image of Buddhist stele by
Alternate image of Buddhist stele by


Buddhist stele
Other titles:
Rectangular votive steel carved on all four sides with the figures of Buddha, Maitreya, Bodhisattvas, spirit kings and donors
Votive stele
Place of origin
Northern Wei 386 - 535Northern dynasties 420 - 589 → China
circa 0525-0530
Media category
Materials used
carved sandstone

143.8 x 53.3 x 19.5 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Purchased with assistance from the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales and the Edward and Goldie Sternberg Chinese Art Purchase Fund 1995
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

The front side of this stele is carved with a principal image of Shakyamuni Buddha seated in a niche, while the reverse features a principal image of the Future Buddha, Maitreya, sitting cross-legged. The Shakyamuni Buddha sits beneath a flame-ornamented canopy and is flanked by a pair of Bodhisattvas: those most human of beings in the vast pantheon of Buddhist deities who, having achieved Buddhahood, elect to remain on earth out of compassion. The figure of Maitreya sits beneath an ornately decorated canopy and is also flanked by a pair of small Bodhisattva images. Above both the principal images the stele is carved with miniature Buddhas. A dedicatory inscription on the upper right bears the now partially damaged reign date, which reads: 'chang yuan nian...'. The absence of the first character precludes a precise date, but indicates either 512, 525 or 532. Further inscriptions on all sides of the stele give the names of donors who contributed to its construction as an act of Buddhist devotion.

Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg.249.

Bibliography (12)

Yin Cao, The Connoisseur and the Philanthropist: 30 years of the Sternberg Collection, 'Chinese Art', pg. 12-23, Sydney, 31 Jan 2014, 17 (colour illus.).

Edmund Capon, Look, 'The Arts of Asia', pg. 24, Heidelberg, Apr 1997, 24 (colour illus.).

Edmund Capon, The Connoisseur and the Philanthropist: 30 years of the Sternberg Collection, 'The connoisseur and the philanthropist: the creation of a collection', pg. 5-10, Sydney, 31 Jan 2014, 9 (colour illus.).

Joanna Capon, Art and Australia (Vol. 41, No. 4), 'Goldie Sternberg. Benefactor', pg. 618-620, Paddington, Jun 2004-Aug 2004, 618, 619 (colour illus.), 620.

Jonathan Cooper (Editor), The Art Gallery of New South Wales Bulletin, 'Exhibitions', pg. 10-17, Sydney, Apr 1995-May 1995, 14 (colour illus.).

Eskenazi Ltd Oriental Art, Early Chinese art from tombs and temples, London, Jun 1993.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Asian Collection: East Asia', pg. 246-287, Sydney, 1999, 248 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, China 'Buddhist Art', Sydney, 2003, 92 (colour illus.), 92 (colour illus., reverse).

Jackie Menzies, TAASA Review, "Art Gallery of New South Wales", Sydney, Mar 1998, 9 (illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Look: 1953-2003 celebrating 50 years, 'Asian Treasures', pg. 57-59, Newtown, May 2003, 58 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies (Editor), Buddha: Radiant awakening, Sydney, 2001, 162 (colour illus.), 188. 119

LIU Yang, Orientations, 'The Discovery of Mass: A Footnote to the Stylistic and Iconographic Innovation in Chinese Buddhist Sculpture', pg. 88-95, Hong Kong, Sep 2000, 88 (colour illus.), 89 (colour illus.). fig.1, 1a (reverse), 1b (right side)

Exhibition history (2)

Buddha: Radiant awakening, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 10 Nov 2001–24 Feb 2002

The connoisseur and the philanthropist: 30 years of the Sternberg Collection of Chinese Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 31 Jan 2014–27 Apr 2014