Amitayus, the Buddha of Eternal Life


China Modern Contemporary Art Document

China Modern Contemporary Art Document

The Mogao Grottoes witnessed an emergence of a great number of murals based on Buddhist sutras since the Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907). The Amitayurdhyana Sutra had been one of the most popular themes. Normally, a mural based on this sutra would center on the depiction of the Pure Land under the leadership of Amitayus, the Buddha of Eternal Life, and the main contents, namely, the 16 Meditation, would appear at the two sides. However, this mural in cave 112 only focuses on the illustration of the prosperity and beauty of the Pure Land while dropping the 16 Meditations due to space restriction of the grotto. The creators knew that what the worshippers cared about more is the world where believing in Buddhism would bring them in the afterlife, whether it is beautiful enough for them to endure the suffering of this life. That’s why the creators took every effort to portray a glorious world, with grand palaces and carefree residents, who had nothing to do but enjoy nice food and great music. The dancer playing pipa behind her back in the foreground is the focal point of this part of the mural. Her serene complexion and elegant gesture are intoxicating to viewers.

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  • Title: Amitayus, the Buddha of Eternal Life
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: 中唐
  • Provenance: 甘肅敦煌莫高窟112窟南壁東側
  • Medium: Mural
  • Dynastic period: 中唐


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