The Journey

Portrait of a Buddhist Pilgrim

  • 22
  • China
  • Engraved in 1933
  • Rubbing; ink on paper
  • H. 45 1/4 x W. 24 13/16 in. (115 x 63 cm)
  • C. V. Starr East Asian Library, University of California, Berkeley

This rubbing was taken from a 1933 stone stele based on a painting long identified, although many scholars believe mistakenly, as a portrait of the famous Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang (602–664). The original image was duplicated numerous times and also recreated as a stele carving, the oldest extant version of which dates to the fourteenth century. This version is a late example, demonstrating how important an icon the image continued to be into the twentieth century. The inscription on the stele gives the names of the draftsman, Li Zhisheng, and carver, Guo Xi'an. Over the course of seventeen years, Xuanzang, a Buddhist monk and translator, traveled west from China to India and back. On his trip he gathered Buddhist texts and visited pilgrimage sites and centers of Buddhist learning.

PHOTO CREDIT: C. V. Starr East Asian Library, University of California, Berkeley


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