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Kneeling Attendant Bodhisattva (from Mogao Cave 328, Dunhuang, Gansu province) (late 7th century)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Kneeling Attendant Bodhisattva (from Mogao Cave 328, Dunhuang, Gansu province) (late 7th century).

About the Work

Title : Kneeling Attendant Bodhisattva (from Mogao Cave 328, Dunhuang, Gansu province)
Year : late 7th century
Medium : Unfired clay mixed with fibers and straw modeled over wooden armature; with polychromy and gilding
Dimensions : sight: H. 122 x Diam. approx. 71.1 cm (48 1/16 x 28 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :

“…this sculpture was not carved into the stone walls of a cave; rather, it was formed by applying clay mixed with fibers and straw to a wooden armature and allowing it to harden naturally.”

The piece presented here was part of a group of sculptures that included a Shakyamuni Buddha, surrounded by six bodhisattvas and a few students. This figure is represented as kneeling down in front of the Buddha, with hands folded in humility.

In Buddhism, Bodhisattvas are people who are on the path to enlightenment, through spiritual practice.

Other Details

Kneeling Attendant Bodhisattva (from Mogao Cave 328, Dunhuang, Gansu province) is housed in the Harvard Art Museums in Room 2740. It is part of the museum’s collection of Buddhist Art -Buddhist Art. This work has been housed at the Fogg Art Museum since 1924.


To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit Artwork in Focus.

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