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Shrine with an Image of the Buddha Amitayus

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, Southwest, 2nd floor
This small deluxe shrine was likely created for the personal use of a very elite Buddhist practitioner, and it probably stood on an altar table in a family home or palace sub-building. The image of the Buddha Amitayus arrived at the Brooklyn Museum with the shrine in 1909, but it is almost certainly a replacement for the one that was originally displayed there.
MEDIUM Shrine: Cloisonné enamel on copper alloy; Image: Copper with semiprecious stones
  • Place Made: China
  • DATES 1736–1795
    DYNASTY Qing Dynasty
    PERIOD Qianlong Period
    DIMENSIONS 25 1/4 x 14 3/8 x 10 5/8 in. (64.1 x 36.5 x 27 cm) Buddha: 8 1/4 × 4 3/4 × 3 7/8 in. (21 × 12.1 × 9.8 cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 09.520a-b
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Samuel P. Avery, Jr.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Large shrine, containing an image. The shrine rests on a rectangular pedestal with a spreading base, four low feet, a scalloped lower edge, sides that curve inwards to a narrow central band and a railing on top. Rising from the corners of the pedestal are four columns entwined with dragons amongst clouds, in relief, supporting an elaborate domed roof surmounted by a large knob. The edges of the roof spread upwards and outwards, are shaped to resemble ju li heads and have bells suspended from the scrolls which protrude from the corners. The image, a Lamaist Bodhisattva, sits cross-legged on a pedestal, and wears the usual skirt (dhota), sash, jeweled chains, arm bands, and crown. Behind is an arch decorated with a flame pattern in relief. Gilded bronze. The image is decorated with colored glass to simulate jewelry, and the shrine is decorated with cloisonné and champlevé enamels. On the pedestal are false gadroons and floral scrolls in low relief, with the ground filled with colored champlevé enamels, chiefly a dull turquoise. The floor of the pedestal is now similarly enameled a similar turquoise blue. The columns are similarly enameled. The tip of the knob, the ju li head shaped plaques on the roof, and the upward spreading eaves are decorated with lotus scrolls in red, white, pink, yellow, two shades of green and cobalt blue cloisonné enamels on the turquoise ground. The canopy like structure of the shrine is probably Indian in origin and the form of the shrine as a whole corresponds to a well known baldacchino in St. Peters, Rome, created in 1624-1633 by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680). The imperial dragons around the four ornate columns, however, are typically Chinese. Between the base of the knob are double rows of false galdroons, all in relief. The seated figure is likely the Bodhisattva Amitayus, who is shown crowned and seated with his hands in dhyana mudra (palms up, the posture of meditation).
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, Southwest, 2nd floor
    CAPTION Shrine with an Image of the Buddha Amitayus, 1736–1795. Shrine: Cloisonné enamel on copper alloy; Image: Copper with semiprecious stones, 25 1/4 x 14 3/8 x 10 5/8 in. (64.1 x 36.5 x 27 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Samuel P. Avery, Jr., 09.520a-b. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 09.520a-b_threequarter_SL3.jpg)
    IMAGE threequarter, 09.520a-b_threequarter_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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