Chinese - Votive Stele, 543


Votive Stele, 543

Limestone , 142.2 x 81.9 x 62.9 cm (56 x 32 1/4 x 24 3/4 in.)


This votive stele—essentially a tangible prayer—is the most important non-western artwork in the Gardner's collection. Its principal figures, all standing on lotus petals, include the Buddha attended by disciples wearing monastic robes and flanked by bodhisattvas embodying compassion and wisdom. Together they convey messages of universal and personal salvation, appropriate to a votive, an object made in recognition of a prayer fulfilled and donated to a shrine. Seventy-eight donors commissioned this one in honor of the Emperor and their names are listed on its base. This inscription also gives the date of the donation as 2 July 543 CE in a form corresponding to the calendar of the Eastern Wei dynasty.