Memory, Memento, and Sacred Bond

Footprints of the Buddha

  • 88
  • China (possibly Mongolia)
  • 19th century
  • Mineral pigments on cloth
  • H. 31 1/2 x W. 21 1/2 in. (78.7 x 54.6 cm)
  • The Rubin Museum of Art, New York, C2003.37.1
  • Mount Wutai
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This painting of the footprints of the Buddha comes from Mount Wutai, one of China's four sacred Buddhist mountains. Wutai, also known as Mount Qingliang, has been associated with Buddhism since the fifth or sixth century. Chinese Buddhists believe the mountain to be the home of the bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjushri (known as Wenshu in China), and it has attracted Buddhist pilgrims from all over Asia. These footprints, surrounded by Tibetan-style imagery, were acquired as a souvenir by a pilgrim who visited Mount Wutai. The footprints are believed to be based on copies of those brought back to China from Pataliputra, India, by the seventh-century Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang.

PHOTO CREDIT: © The Rubin Museum of Art, New York

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