A Colossal Stucco Bodhisattava Head
Height: 98.7 cm. (38 7/8 in.)
The use of clay, lime and straw or similar component provided a lightweight material that made the production of massive in situ pieces of great complexity possible, as monasteries and temples in Shanxi province particularly attest. The conservative nature of this production is evidenced in examples produced from the Tang dynasty onward. The white smooth surfaces of the faces, thick strands of blue hair, the red urna and lips, the gracefully bowed eyes, and intricately modeled crowns are the essential features. While multiple images of Sakyamuni appear in the headpieces of these figures, the number four suggests they serve as guardians of the four directions, as the bodhisattva is a savior deity with the entire world under its charge. Although appearing remote and detached, the watchful gaze here is compelling and even reassuring. We acquired this massive head in Hong Kong in the late nineties, right after we moved from Japan and established a gallery in NYC. We had long admired and finally had a place large enough to house her.