Head of the disciple Ananda

Historical period(s)
Northern Qi dynasty, 550-577
Limestone with traces of pigment
H x W x D: 32.1 x 23.2 x 18.8 cm (12 5/8 x 9 1/8 x 7 3/8 in)
China, Hebei province, Fengfeng, northern Xiangtangshan, South Cave
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 17: Promise of Paradise
Sculpture, Stone

Figure: head (fragment)

Ananda, Buddhism, cave, China, disciple, monk, Northern Qi dynasty (550 - 577), relief, temple

To 1913
Yamanaka & Company, New York to 1913 [1]

From 1913 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Yamanaka & Company, New York in 1913 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Miscellaneous List, S.I. 477, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Yamanaka and Co. (C.L. Freer source) 1917-1965


This smooth-shaven young monk with compassionate expression most likely represents Ananda, Shakyamuni Buddha's young disciple. The head is almost life-size and would have belonged to an impressive, high-relief sculpture flanking an image of the Buddha in one of China's cave-temples. When Buddhist sculptures left China in the early twentieth century, their original site was often unrecorded. Therefore, scholars are still trying to determine the origin of some sculptures. Based on style, it seems likely that this head came from one of the seventh-century, Tang-dynasty caves at Longmen, a large cave-temple complex near Luoyang, Henan Province. Some scholars see a greater similarity to the sculpture at Xiangtangshan, the Northern Qi site located in present-day Handan Municipality, Hebei Province. Further research is needed.

Published References
  • Chang Qing. Search and Research: The Provenance of Longmen Images in the Freer Collection. vol. 34, no. 5 Hong Kong, May 2003. p. 19, fig. 5.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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