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China, Shanxi Province, Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), 14th century
Height: 122 cm
Provenance: Private Collection, United Kingdom
A monumental figure of Buddha seated in padmasana lotus position, with his hands in the dhyana mudra the gesture of absolute balance. He emits a sense of vastness and serenity in meditation. The long low-slung robe covering his legs, is tied at the waist, the chest exposed. His shoulders, arms and thighs are covered by a long cloak. The robes are gilt, with a patterned design and a red lining. The flesh is painted in soft pinkish tones, and the tight curls on the head have traces of the original blue paint. The eyes are inlaid with black glass for dramatic effect. This Buddha was clearly meant to be viewed from the front, as the back has been left relatively unworked.
Stucco was an effective way to produce dramatic and large (religious) sculpture. The figures are generally constructed on a wooden frame, padded with reed, then modelled with clay stucco. It is smoothly finished with a thin layer of gesso, which is sometimes incised with decorative patterns. Finally it is covered with a paper, which is painted and gilded.