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Seated Buddha


(Please click for enlarged image)

      (Location of the original statue)


East side of north wall of Mogao Cave 259
Northern Wei period
Copy by Du Yongwei

This is one of the finest stucco statues at Dunhuang and also an exemplary statue of the Meditation Buddha belonging to the Northern Dynasties period. Śākyamuni is portrayed as sitting in padmāsana (lotus posture) on a square throne, and cladded in an earth-red kāṣāya covering both shoulders. The upright and robust build, straight nose, large eyes and full face suggest influence of the Western Regions.

The facial expression is meticulously rendered, featuring long and high curved eyebrows, slightly slanting eyes, subtly dilated nose wings, and upturned mouth corners forming two dimples and a delicate smile. The expression does not suggest any solitude associated with mediation or suffering derived from ascetic practice. Rather, it bespeaks the joy of gaining awakening after practising meditation and calming one's mind. The body-clinging robe with incised drapery folds looks thin and transparent. It is reminiscent of the drapery rendering technique known as caoyi chushui (Cao's robe rising out of water).