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  • Thumbnail for Amitabha Dharani Sutra - frontispiece with illustration
    Amitabha Dharani Sutra - frontispiece with illustration

    On the fiftieth anniversary of his graduation, Charles R. Bennett ('07) gifted this woodblock-printed, illustrated Buddhist text to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Dating to the year 975, the Amitabha Sutra is probably the earliest printed object in the college's collection. Consider that the world's earliest dated printed book is the Buddhist Diamond Sutra of 868 (now in the British Library) and that the Gutenberg Bible hails from the mid-1400s. Mr. Bennett, who lived and worked in China for two decades after graduating, remarked that the sutra was recovered from a brick of a pagoda in the city of Hangzhou. Indeed , on September 25, 1924, the famous Leifeng ("Thunder Peak") Pagoda collapsed. Erected by a regional king, the Leifeng Pagoda stood on the southern bank of the scenic West Lake for nearly a millenium. In 2000-01, a team of excavators revealed an underground chamber filled with gilt silver and bronze sculptures along with artifacts of stone and jade. In addition, the excavation confirmed the presence of bricks with cylindrical cavities that once held printed sutras. Bowdoin's sutra, not quite 3 inches high but almost seven feet long, is currently mounted as a handscroll. Its condition attests to its age, but as we may still distinguish from right to left a dedication, an illustration, and a sutra text. The dedication tells us that the king, Wang Qianchu, commissioned 84,000 copies of this sutra to be placed in the pagoda in the 8th month of the year 975. The illustration shows two distinct moments. At right a worshipper kneels at an altar table placed before a holy triad comprised of a seated Buddhist deity and a pair of monks. At left, the deity appears to a beseeching worshipper. Radiant jewels hang from above, fragrant flowers rain down, and a splendid stupa is placed at the center, giving the scene a sacred air. Following the illustration, the text records a story of how Buddha once restored a crumbling pagoda. It seems likely that by placing many copies of this sutra in Leifeng Pagoda, the king could ensure the building's continued existence. From text drafted for a Bowdoin College Museum of Art newsletter by De-nin D. Lee. The entire scroll measures approximately 3" x 7'. Woodblock-printed, illustrated Buddhist text. To view the text that accompanies this illustration, click on related records below.

  • Thumbnail for Crane by Pine and Waterfall from Album of 11 Miniature Sketches)
    Crane by Pine and Waterfall from Album of 11 Miniature Sketches) by Jin Xiaqi

    These sketches depict animals in landscapes 1) crane by pine and waterfall 2) two horses by stream 3) ox-herder and two oxen crossing a stone bridge 4) dragon cavorting above a frothy sea 5) a pair of peacocks on a riverbank 6) a group of horses in a pasture 7) mandarin ducks in a pond 8) monkey clinging to a hillock 9) white goats on a hillside 10) a pair of white cranes near bamboo 11) three spotted deer, plantain, and rock. Each album leaf is 5 1/16 x 3 1/2 inches. Ink and colors on silk. To see another image from the album, click on related record below.

  • Thumbnail for Landscape in the style of Mi Fu from Album of Eight Minature Landscapes
    Landscape in the style of Mi Fu from Album of Eight Minature Landscapes by Zhang Peidun (1772-1846)

    This album of landscapes demonstrates Zhang's ability to paint in a number of classic idioms, including the misty "Mi" family style, and the style of Ni Zan. The album could have functioned as an artist's sketchbook of compositions and styles, but it would have had value for collectors. A good representation of the orthodox styles available to artists of the late imperial period. 7 5/8 x 4 7/8 inches. Ink on paper. See related album leaf by clicking on related record below.

  • Thumbnail for Landscape in the style of Ni Zan from an Album of Eight Miniature Landscapes
    Landscape in the style of Ni Zan from an Album of Eight Miniature Landscapes by Zhang Peidun (1772-1846)

    This album of landscapes demonstrates Zhang's ability to paint in a number of classic idioms, including the misty "Mi" family style, and the style of Ni Zan. The album could have functioned as an artist's sketchbook of compositions and styles, but it would have had value for collectors. A good representation of the orthodox styles available to artists of the late imperial period. 7 5/8 x 4 7/8 inches. Ink on paper.

  • Thumbnail for General Zhu Zhixi (1624-1666) in His Garden
    General Zhu Zhixi (1624-1666) in His Garden by Jiao Bingzhen (1689-1726)

    The inscription gives Jiao Bingzhen as the artist, though the painting is probably later in date. The painting depicts a scene from the biography of General Zhu Zhixi, president of the Board of War for the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing dynasty. A biography is appended. The scene shows the general in a library set into a garden, with servants nearby. 11 7/8 x 44 inches. Ink and colors on silk.

  • Thumbnail for Frontispiece to painting of One Hundred Boys
    Frontispiece to painting of One Hundred Boys by Gu Luo (1763-?)

    Frontispiece giving date and title to the painting of One Hundred Boys by Gu Luo. The painting employs the same pastel, bright palette for depicting an auspicious subject of 100 boys playing. This theme would have been functional as a gift for a newlywed couple. The image is delightful and humorous.11 15/16 x 88 15/16 inches. Ink and colors on silk. To see the entire scroll, click on related record below.

  • Thumbnail for Tea Room image 6 (tea sets)
    Tea Room image 6 (tea sets) by Seiji Suzuki

    A traditional "mizuya" or preparation room sits apart from the tearoom. Typically, the most honored guest sits closest to the alcove, but our tea room is designed in a configuration known as geza-doko, which allows visitors to enjoy a full view during a demonstration. The first guest sits closest to the outer-most edge of the tea room.

  • Thumbnail for Chinese Bronze Belt Hook (view from above)
    Chinese Bronze Belt Hook (view from above)

    3" l. Cast with long scrolled horns flanking a crest, large ears, prominent snout and protruding curved tongue forming the hook.

  • Thumbnail for Chinese Bronze Belt Hook (front)
    Chinese Bronze Belt Hook (front)

    3 1/2""h. Cast in relief, a stylized winged dragon coiled in a figure eight, taloned feet with a slender shaft above ending in a bird's-head hook. Traces of gilding present.

  • Thumbnail for Chinese Jizhou Tomb Vase (baluster)
    Chinese Jizhou Tomb Vase (baluster)

    Pair - 5 1/2" h. Baluster - 6 1/8" h. A pair of pyriform vases on a high splayed foot, molded with a raised floral scroll above a raised band which is over a band overlapping lotus leaves, an incised thin band on the wide neck terminating in a flat ringed mouth. The dirty light brown and crazed glaze on the exterior falls to halfway down the foot where the grey sugary body is brown from firing. A third vase is of baluster form with molded leaves on the shoulder below the bulbous portion and on the foot, two applied tubular handles above an incised ring on the neck. The dirty light brown glaze is halfway down the foot.

  • Thumbnail for Chinese Stoneware Cup and Stand (detail)
    Chinese Stoneware Cup and Stand (detail)

    Cup - 2 1/8" h x 4" w. Stand - 1 1/4" h x 5 3/4" w. Petal - carved, campanulate cup, green-glazed, crazed and pooling thickly in recesses and running down on a solid, slightly splayed base in thicl pools, flat base with traces of spurs, double groove below the rim on the exterior. Design of overlapping petals repeated on the inside of the stand, encircling the cup ring, concave base, buff colored body.

  • Thumbnail for Chinese Stoneware Dish (top)
    Chinese Stoneware Dish (top)

    7 1/2" w. Small dish, shallow, gently curving upward from the flat, footless bottom with traces of three large spur mounds, carved design of overlapping lotus petals with pod rings in the center, olive green crazed and glassy glaze with dark poolings in the recesses and near the base, grey body.

  • Thumbnail for Hong Yai Goes Out
    Hong Yai Goes Out by Su Liuming

    A professional painter of figures and narratives.

  • Thumbnail for Chinese Stoneware Jar-Small
    Chinese Stoneware Jar-Small

    3 1/2" h. Similar to "Chinese Stoneware Jar -Large" - less the lobes, less the solid foot. Footless concave bottom.

  • Thumbnail for Chinese Stone Relief Carving (right view)
    Chinese Stone Relief Carving (right view)

    Detail of figure to the left of male seated figure. Halo around this standing female figure's head indicates her divine nature.

  • Thumbnail for Carrak Bottle
    Carrak Bottle

    Blue and white kendi. Beginning in the 14th C., the kendi also was made for export. Kendi was a drinking vessel with a long neck for filling and a short spout for drinking. The shape originated in Persia; kendi is a Persian word.

  • Thumbnail for Plate - Blue and White Kraak ware
    Plate - Blue and White Kraak ware

    Kraak ware, the center decorated with unusual scene of two deer (one spotted) at the water's edge, in a landscape of rocks, flowers, trees. Cracked with raised, unglazed "bumps" in center.

  • Thumbnail for Seated Karako
  • Thumbnail for Bronze Incised Belt Hook - top view
    Bronze Incised Belt Hook - top view

    2"w. Cast with projecting brows, scrolled horns and large scrolled ears, loop handle below a protruding nose which is flanked by hooked fangs, incised with fur markings, traces of gilding present. Dated to Late Eastern Zhou/ Early Han Dynasty.

  • Thumbnail for Chinese Jizhou Tomb Vases (pair)
    Chinese Jizhou Tomb Vases (pair)

    Pair - 5 1/2" h. Baluster - 6 1/8" h. A pair of pyriform vases on a high splayed foot, molded with a raised floral scroll above a raised band which is over a band overlapping lotus leaves, an incised thin band on the wide neck terminating in a flat ringed mouth. The dirty light brown and crazed glaze on the exterior falls to halfway down the foot where the grey sugary body is brown from firing. A third vase is of baluster form with moled leaves on the shoulder below the bulbous portion and on the foot, two applied tubular handles above an incised ring on the neck. The dirty light brown glaze is halfway down the foot.

  • Thumbnail for Chinese Gu Yue Xuan Vase (view 2)
    Chinese Gu Yue Xuan Vase (view 2)

    4 7/8" h. Slender ovate form, cylindrical foot ring, tapered shoulder and trumpet horn neck and mouth, raised enamel décor from top to bottom, on the neck a band of ruyi heads followed by a band of pendant jewels, on the shoulder band of upright overlapping stiff leaves, a narrow double reciprocating linear band, a wider Greek key band followed by a narrow pendant spear head band, the body with a hawk standing on a rock formation with lotus leaves below and a large setting sun to the left, above the sun is a short poem in black enamel with three red seals, on the foot ring is a band of ruyi heads followed by a band of floral meander alternating with Greek key, the bands in blue enamel, the scene in polychrome enamel, egg shell thin porcelain, red enamel four character mark "made for the hall of cultivation of virtue" - a palace mark in a double line square with rounded corners.

  • Thumbnail for Chinese Carved Gourd with Literary Scenes (1 view 2)
    Chinese Carved Gourd with Literary Scenes (1 view 2)

    1 1/2" h x 1 3/4" l (including base). Side view of finely carved gourd showing scenes from literature and opera.

  • Thumbnail for Chinese "Hare's Fur" teabowl (profile)
  • Thumbnail for Funerary Vases (detail 2)
    Funerary Vases (detail 2)

    Detail of neck of funerary vessel. This unusual green glaze jar belongs to a particular type of funerary vessel made during the Three Kingdoms and Western Jin dynasties. Called a hunping (spirit jar), it has a long tapered body topped by a configuration of architectural elements and animals. In this example, figures circle the jar as other creatures swarm up the neck of the container.

  • Thumbnail for Chinese Junyao Bowl - top view
    Chinese Junyao Bowl - top view

    6 3/4" w. Campunulate form with slightly inverted rim, carved with two tiers of overlapping petals just above the foot on the exterior and freely carved floral scrolls in the interior of the bowl, the unglazed base has a shallow narrow foot ring, a blue glaze on the exterior and interior terminating to a mushroom color on the rim, an incised quarter moon on the base. Song Dynasty or later.