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This image shows six figures, two in the top row, three in the middle row, and one in the bottom right corner, all wearing light green, grey, and brown robes. The two figures in the center and center left have halos around their heads.

This image shows six figures arranged in three rows, with green and brown, geometric design along the left edge. The top row shows two figures from the mouth down. The middle row shows two human figures on the left and center, the left with a brown halo and the center with a white, green, and brown halo. The third character on the right of hte second row has a less human face and is wearing a red, brown, and green crown. The bottom row shows an anthropomorphic, fish faced being with sharp teeth. All of hte figures are wearing different robes colored, green, brown, and grey.

Gallery Text

This mural section is a companion to the Bust of an Attendant Bodhisattva (1924.43) at left. The scene is centered upon a bodhisattva who turns to face a Buddha (not seen here), whose halo is partially visible at the left edge. Standing between the unseen Buddha and this bodhisattva, an elderly monk — Mahakashyapa, one of the Buddha’s favored disciples — holds a sutra scroll, a reference to the Buddha’s teachings. Clad in military armor and displaying a fierce demeanor, one of the Eight Devas and Dragons appears in the upper-right corner of the composition. This mural section thus gives a sense of the radially hierarchical nature of mural compositions throughout much of the history of Chinese Buddhist art: a buddha at center is immediately flanked by his closest disciples and principal attendant bodhisattvas; they, in turn, are surrounded by protective deities of decreasing levels of spiritual advancement.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Bust of a Bodhisattva Surrounded by a Monk and Devas (from the south wall of Mogao Cave 320, Dunhuang, Gansu province)
Work Type
mural painting
early 8th century
Creation Place: East Asia, China, Gansu province, Dunhuang
Tang dynasty, 618-907
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2740, Buddhist Art, The Efflorescence of East Asian and Buddhist Art
View this object's location on our interactive map

Physical Descriptions

Section of a wall painting; polychromy on unfired clay
painting proper (irregular): H. 47 x W. 62.2 cm (18 1/2 x 24 1/2 in.)
framed: H. 73.7 x W. 94 x D. 3.5 cm (29 x 37 x 1 3/8 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
From Mogao Cave 320, Dunhuang, Gansu province; acquired during the First Fogg Expedition to China (1923-24) led by Langdon Warner (1881-1955)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, First Fogg Expedition to China (1923-1924)
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Publication History

  • Sanchita Balachandran, "Research into the Collecting and Conservation History of Chinese Wall Paintings from Dunhuang in the Harvard University Art Museums" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 2004), Unpublished, passim
  • Sanchita Balachandran, Object Lessons: The Politics of Preservation and Museum Building in Western China in the Early Twentieth Century, International Journal of Cultural Property (2007), Vol. 14, No. 1, 1-32

Exhibition History

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Verification Level

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