Bodhisattva as Guide of Souls, ink and colours on a silk banner


British Museum

British Museum

The painting is inscribed with the characters yinlu pu or 'Bodhisattva leading the Way'. It is one of several examples from Mogao of a bodhisattva leading the beautifully clad donor figure to the Pure Land, or Paradise, indicated by a Chinese building floating on clouds in the top left corner. The two figures are also supported by a cloud indicating that they are flying. The bodhisattva, shown much larger than the donor, is holding a censer and a banner in his hand. The banner is one of many of the same type found at Mogao, with a triangular headpiece and streamers.The woman appears to be very wealthy, with gold hairpins in her hair. Actual examples of these were found in Chinese tombs. Her fashionably plump figure suggests that the painting was executed in the ninth or tenth century.

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  • Title: Bodhisattva as Guide of Souls, ink and colours on a silk banner
  • Date Created: 851/900
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 80.50cm; Width: 53.80cm; Height: 174.00cm (Painting on mount); Height: 180.00cm (Height with hanging attachment); Width: 68.00cm (Painting on mount); Width: 73.20cm (Painting on mount; with roller); Depth: 3.20cm (Painting on mount; with roller)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Subject: bodhisattva; paradise; religious object; banner
  • Registration number: 1919,0101,0.47
  • Production place: Made in China
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Qian Fo Dong. Excavated/Findspot
  • Period/culture: Tang dynasty
  • Material: silk
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Collected by Stein, Marc Aurel


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