This masterpiece is a perfect marriage of sensuous modeling, reflecting Gupta influence, and the Chinese inclination toward linear surface decoration. The tribhanga, or triple-flexed stance, along with the musculature of chest and abdomen, is well observed and unexaggerated. Together with the sloping shoulders and slender body it reflects Gupta sensuousness moderated by Chinese artistic propriety. The sensitively modeled and well-proportioned torso manifests the idealized beauty and serene nobility of a superhuman being. Although the head and most limbs are missing, the detailed and delicately carved necklaces and draperies identify this figure as the torso of a bodhisattva, which was probably made in a metropolitan workshop.
|The taut muscles, martial stance, and unyielding manner of this heroic figure mark this image as that of a vajrasattva, guardian of the Buddha, his Law, and the Buddhist church. Derived from Indian iconography, vajrasattvas were usually placed in pairs or groups in front of the main altar in a Buddhist temple. In the Esoteric Buddhism developed during the Tang dynasty, however, the vajrasattva was a Transcendental deity, an emanation of the Supreme Buddha, who occupied a fixed position in the mandala, the diagrammatic representation of the Buddhist cosmic system, used in rituals or ceremonies for the spiritually initiated. The power of a vajrasattva is as indestructible as a diamond and as irresistible as a thunderbolt, which are both translated as vajra in Sanskrit. The manneristically exaggerated musculature, pivoting stride, and flaring garment of this image are designed to convey that superhuman strength.|
|Esoteric Buddhism, which came to China from India, brought with it the concept of Five Transcendent Buddhas, called Dhyani Buddhas, or Meditation Buddhas, who symbolize aspects of enlightened consciousness. Each of these is identified with a particular direction, color, animal mount, and significant hand gesture (mudra ). This sculpture, displayed in the middle of this bay, represents Ratnasambhava, Buddha of the South, called in Chinese Baosheng ("Producer of Treasures"). His standard iconographic features are the right hand in the gesture of giving or granting and the seven-winged horse bearing his lotus throne. As befits a Buddha rather than a bodhisattva, Ratnasambhava wears a simple monastic garment and no jewelry. Remaining traces of gold indicate that the fine white marble was originally gilded.|