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The Art Institute of Chicago

Tang Dynasty "Buddha"

Tang Dynasty "Buddha"

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From: The Art Institute of Chicago
Limited Edition: 8
Exhibition: Free Evenings at the Art Institute
Material: Printed vinyl
Dimensions: 30" x 99" (76.2cm x 251.46cm)

Hanging Hardware Included


Art can always count on religion for inspiration, and much of the art exchanged on the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road was religious in nature. During the Tang Dynasty, Chinese travelers to India learned of Buddhism and returned to their homeland to create narrative murals, large statues, porcelain figures, and woodblock prints. This sculpture of Buddha was carved during this rich artistic era, and is representative of The Art Institute of Chicago's distinguished Asian collection which spans nearly five millenia.


The Buddha prominently featured on this banner from The Art Institute of Chicago was sculpted during the golden age of art, literature and geographic expansion of the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Emperor Xuanzong, known as the Brilliant Monarch, ruled during the high point of this dynasty, setting a standard of excellence to which future painters and sculptors aspired.

During his reign, Emperor Xuanzong traveled the Silk Road, the ancient network of trade routes between the Mediterranean coast and Japan, and a metaphor for cultural exchange between distant places and diverse people. The trade route facilitated the exchange of goods as well as sharing traditions, cultures, technology, and religions. Emperor Xuanzong visited India in search of greater knowledge of Buddhism, and returned 17 years later with Sanskrit texts on Buddhist teachings to be translated into Chinese. This extended and heightened the influence of Buddhism in China, with Buddhist monasteries playing an integral role in Chinese society. Monasteries offered lodging for travelers, schools for children, places for social events, and sites for mills, oil presses, and other business enterprises.

This Buddha is one of 35,000 objects from The Art Institute of Chicago’s distinguished Asian collection. Carved from limestone, the work stands over seven feet tall and more than three-and-a-half feet in diameter. Traces of polychromy (the art of using various colors in sculpture or painting) indicate that the sculpture was originally painted.

This banner promoting free admission to the museum on Thursdays and Fridays during the summer months features Buddha on its top portion. The bottom part of the banner is heather green with the museum’s name, the Ford Motor Company’s logo, and the “Ford Motor Company Fund” in white text. The opposite side of the banner is yellow with pink and green lettering: “Free Evenings/Thursdays and Fridays/June 3—Labor Day/5-9 pm”.


This banner was displayed around Chicago during the summer of 2010 to promote free Thursday and Friday evenings at the museum at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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