Two Assemblies from Cave 224

TITLE: Two Assemblies from Cave 224
DATE: 4-6TH Century
MEDIUM: Gypsum plaster with pigment
DIMENSIONS: H x W: 85.1 x 76.2 cm (33 1/2 x 30 in)
GEOGRAPHY: China, Xinjiang province, Kucha
REPOSITORY: Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of John Gellatly in 1929; from 1985 on loan to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

This cave painting is very interesting and distinct to me. I cannot tell if these men in the painting are supposed to be Buddhas or not. The features of each of the people in the painting are different. A common theme of this artwork is the color blue. I wonder why the artist chose to make some people have blue hair and beards, and also, one person’s skin tone is blue itself. I know that in Chinese art that blue is a prominent color that symbolizes life and spirit. This leads me to believe that these figures in the painting are gods as opposed to humans. Some of the characters show lines in their ribcage area, which means that they were starving or very hungry just as the Buddha was. The figure in the middle looks like the main, most powerful character as he is standing taller than everyone else. The person to the right looks exactly like him, but he is kneeling and looks like he is praying. This could mean that the Buddha is a king, but he also shows humility and does not need any belongings or privileges.

Author: Cam Schainfeld

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