Chinese Marble Stone Buddha Stele
Qing Dynasty, 1644-1911
X w.10 in.(25cm.) X d.3.5 in.(9cm.)
carving represents Buddha Amitabha in seated meditation pose upon a double lotus
throne, with two arhats (Lohan) attending. Amitabha, whose name means Infinite
Light, presides over the western paradise, or Land of Bliss. The brilliant rays
of his compassion reach out to the furthest expanse of the universe with magnetic
power, drawing to him all of the faithful. The aureole above his head, inscribed
with curling leaves, merges with the haloes of the Bodhisattvas beside him. Amitabha
typically sits in dhyana mudra, in contemplation. His smiling face is sensitively
detailed. The arhat on the right bears an unrestrained smile, the one at left
has a more reserved mien, although this appearance may be due to some abrasion.
Across the surface of the stone the artist has strewn a rhythmic pattern of shallowly
carved curves repeating in the draped garments, the graceful vines around the
Buddha’s head, and other details. Carved in bas relief on the front of a brick-like
base are two guardian lions with incised manes and tails, who regard each other
across a celestial budding flower symbolizing the lush gardens of the Pure Land.
A work of great charm, which asserts its antiquity. The surface of the marble
has developed an allover creamy tone with glittering highlights that recall the
original whiteness. Some marks from the flat chisel are visible on the base around
the lions and on the cylindrical platforms supporting the Lohan.