Kshitigarbha, ink and colours on a silk banner


British Museum

British Museum

This is one of many examples from Mogao of a painted banner showing a single bodhisattva figure under a canopy. The orange cartouche on the left contains an inscription identifying him as Dizang Pusa, the Chinese name for Kshitigarbha.While other bodhisattvas are usually shown on the banners from Mogao with long hair and wearing elaborate Indian jewellery, this figure is clean-shaven and wears the kashaya, the robe of Chinese Buddhist monks. Monks were not supposed to have new clothes, so their outfits were usually made up of patchwork squares of supposedly old, but often brand new materials. Kshitigarbha is the only bodhisattva shown as a monk. He stands on a lotus, as is usual for banner paintings of bodhisattvas from Dunhuang, and holds a kundika or ritual water sprinkler.

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  • Title: Kshitigarbha, ink and colours on a silk banner
  • Date Created: 800/899
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 63.70cm; Width: 17.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Subject: bodhisattva
  • Registration number: 1919,0101,0.118
  • 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