Buddhist Septad

Northern Qi dynasty, 550-577 AD
Shanxi Museum

Shakyamuni Buddha is seated on a lotus throne below a mandorla with flying apsarasas. He is flanked on either side by three pairs of standing figures: disciples Ananda and Kasyapa, a pair of bodhisattvas, and another pair of attendants. Two smaller disciples kneel on lotus flowers below the Buddha's throne, facing a lotus-bud jewel (the cintamani, symbolizing the dharma) that is elevated by a telamon. The overall symmetry of the piece is broken only by the Buddha's different mudras (abhaya with his right hand, varada with his left) and by the dissimilar poses of two lions at the base of the composition. The far ends of the base are occupied by two standing bodhisattvas, whose heads are now missing.