marble carving, pearl gray with burnished areas of pure white, age patina from
accumulations and minerals over time. The age of the piece is evidenced in the
many small chips and the resulting texture and coloration of the stone over a
long period of time. Stylistically the work resembles Tang style, as during the
Song Dynasty artistic developments were strongly focused on painting and the elegant
sculptural traditions of the Tang were sustained.
in very high relief from a single piece of stone, depicting the Buddha Maitreya,
the future avatar, standing beneath a canopy--a symbol of power and protection
from defilement ornamented with lion heads, clouds and a protective three-toed
creature, and flanked by two robed bodhisattvas carrying club-like staffs. The
central figure stands richly adorned with jewels, a floral pendant and draping
robes, his smiling face emerging from a radiant aureole. The two smaller figures
bear the resolute expressions of protectors of the light. A foliate design is
carved on the front of the plinth on either side of which are monkeys with offerings.