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Asian art

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Votive stele of Shakyamuni Buddha flanked by two bodhisattvas

circa 0545


Unknown Artist


‘With his right hand raised in the ‘abhaya mudra’ and the left in the ‘varada mudra’, Shakyamuni Buddha stands flanked by the two bodhisattvas, probably Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta. Carved in high relief on the halo are celestial musicians and a pair of ‘apsaras’ (celestial beings) that support an image of the seated Buddha, possibly Prabhutaratna, the Buddha of the past, who vowed to be present whenever the Lotus Sutra was invoked. The stele is carved from an exceptionally fine-grained limestone similar to that used in a large group of recently discovered 6th-century Buddhist sculptures from the Qingzhou region of Shangdong province. The quality of the stone allowed for a high degree of refinement and meticulous detail in the carving, making this an especially fine and beautiful example of early Chinese Buddhist art.’

‘The Asian Collections: Art Gallery of New South Wales’. pg.92
© 2003 Trustees, Art Gallery of New South Wales


Other Titles

Buddhist stele

Standing Shakyamuni Buddha flanked by two Bodhisattvas

Place where the work was made



circa 0545

Media category


Materials used



61.0 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1988


Not on display

Accession number



Where the work was made

Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Klaus Naumann, Apr 1988, Tokyo/Japan, purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1988.

Referenced in 7 publications


Edmund Capon, Look, 'Standing Buddha', pg. 9, Heidelberg, Oct 1998, 9 (colour illus.).

Steve Meacham, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Object of desire', pg. 24, Sydney, 08 Jan 2007, 24 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Asian Collection Handbook, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Introduction', pg. 9-17, Sydney, 1990, 12 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, China 'Buddhist Art', Sydney, 2003, 92, 93 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies (Editor), Buddha: Radiant awakening, Sydney, 2001, 159 (colour illus.), 188. 117

Jackie Menzies, AGNSW Collections, 'Asian Art - India, South-East Asia, China, Tibet, Korea, Japan', pg. 173-228, Sydney, 1994, 191 (colour illus.).

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, 89 (colour illus.). fig.2