Standing bodhisattva

Historical period(s)
Jin dynasty, 12th-13th century
Paulownia wood with gesso and polychrome
H (overall): 172.7 cm (68 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


bodhisattva, Buddhism, China, Jin dynasty (1115 - 1234)
Provenance research underway.

This sculpture, with its squarish face, elaborate volute of hair, thickset upper torso, and columnar lower body, is characteristic of Jin dynasty temple statues. It probably belonged to a group of images of deities placed on an altar in a Buddhist temple in either Shanxi or Hebei Province, where the non-Chinese Jurchen rulers of the Jin dynasty (1115-1234) had a strong power base.

Originally, the sculpture was painted--the face and the hands with flesh tones, the clothing and scarves with bright colors. It would have been exhibited from a height to enhance the effect of the bodhisattva’s downcast eyes greeting the upward gaze of a viewer. The solemn, introspective face exemplifies the detached mental state associated with enlightenment. A bodhisattva is a being who has achieved this state and decides to remain in the world to help others attain personal salvation and enlightenment.

Published References
  • Julia Murray. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions 1970-1980. Exh. cat. Washington, 1979. cat. 12, p. 21.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.