year old Amitabha Buddha, gilded with gold. A small but highly spirited statue
sculpted during the early years of the Ming Dynasty, its simplicity of form beguiling
in the sense that its lack of ornamentation adds to its spiritual complexity.
Three primary colors still cling to the stone: a jade green, a pinkish red, and
an aqua blue. Two disciples, possibly Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta, kneel
at the sides of a single blue lotus. Amitabha himself is covered in a red robe,
his face, chest, and feet gilded with genuine gold leaf, though more than half
of the gold has been flaked off in its long history. There is pock mark on his
forehead, a possible resting place for a jeweled third eye, long since missing.
The quality of the carving itself is simple and immaculate, from the concentric
folds of the deity’s robe, uniformly proportioned levels of the base and plinth,
and in particular, the facial features of Amitabha; his nose and mouth crafted
with subtle, curving depths. A look of serenity and openness distinguishes his
face. The painted stone is curiously smoothed, feeling much like high quality
marble, though the chips in its surface reveal a rough, schist like stone underneath
its attractive tan coat. The creator of this piece likely used a mixture of lead
and pigment to create this coating. Superficially, the piece is in very good condition,
though its otherworldly qualities remain untouched.