Memory, Memento, and Sacred Bond

Votive Plaque of Buddha Seated in Meditation

  • 76
  • Thailand
  • Dvaravati period, ca. 8th century
  • Molded terracotta
  • H. 6 7/8 x W. 4 1/8 x D. 1 1/2 in. (17.5 x 10.5 x 3.8 cm)
  • Harvard Art Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of John Adams Thierry, Class of 1935, in Memory of Louis Sidney Thierry, Class of 1901, 1986.482

This plaque is identical to a fragmentary tablet said to have been found at the site of Si Thep, an important city in the Pa Sak River Valley, which divides northeastern from central Thailand. The front shows the Buddha in meditation. On the back are four Chinese characters that read "biqiu Wenxiang" (monk Wenxiang), identifying this monk as the donor of the tablet. According to one theory, when Cambodia was divided into two polities in the eighth century, Si Thep stood in a polity that sent tribute to China several times, once in 771. This plaque could date from around that time.

PHOTO CREDIT: Imaging Department © President and Fellows of Harvard College

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