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This image shows a person, dressed in red and green, with a halo around their head, surrounded by red, green, and brown designs.

This image shows a person looking off the right of the image, with a halo around their head, and surrounded by red, green, and brown decoration. The figure has green eyebrows, red lips, and grey hair held back by a red and green crown. There is a green, brown, and white halo behind the figures head, and they are wearing green and red strips of clothing on their body. The background of the image is made up of splashes of red, green, and brown color. The image does not have a smooth border but is roughly rectangular with uneven, jagged edges.

Gallery Text

The blue pigment in the hair of this bodhisattva, the prominent white halo, and the magnificent robes and jewelry all attest to this bodhisattva’s elevated status. Fragmentary elements of other figures at the right and left edges of this scene indicate that this bodhisattva was originally part of a group of figures arrayed around a central Buddha, and in fact, that Buddha remains in situ today, depicted in the midst of preaching. One of the Buddha’s disciples, the youthful Ananda, stood between him and the bodhisattva, while four members of the group of Eight Devas and Dragons,wrathful celestial beings dedicated to protecting the Buddha and his teachings, surrounded him. Traces of these figures’ armor are visible in the upper reaches of this mural section.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Bust of an Attendant Bodhisattva (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
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Physical Descriptions

Section of a wall painting; polychromy on unfired clay
painting proper (irregular): H. 37.8 x W. 29.2 cm (14 7/8 x 11 1/2 in.)
framed: H. 73.7 x W. 58.4 x D. 3.5 cm (29 x 23 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

  • Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 25, p. 31
  • 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
  • Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 34, repr.

Exhibition History

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This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at