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Celestial musician

Celestial musician

Pre-480. Northern Wei Dynasty (386 – 534)
China, Shanxi Province, Yungang site (?)
H : 43.5 cm L : 30 cm D : 3 cm

Although its exact origins are unknown, this work can be closely compared to the sculptures from the Yungang Grottoes (Shanxi), which were first built in 460.

The relief was part of the groups of flying musician divinities that might have decorated the dropped ceilings and arcades hanging over the openings, where niches sheltered the statutes of the Buddha and bodhisattva. These minor deities are common in Buddhist and Hindu iconography. Thus, the spirit in the Cernuschi Museum belongs to the group of gandharva, musicians who serve Indra, king of the gods. They live in a fantastic and marvellous city called Gandharvanagara.

The Cernuschi Museum’s musician plays the pipa, a string instrument from Central Asia adopted long ago by the Chinese. The Yungang Grottoes provide several groups of musicians, particularly in grottoes number 6, 7, 8 and 16, which have some similarities with the musician in the Cernuschi Museum’s collection.

Auteur de la notice : Gilles Béguin
Collection : The Three Kingdoms and Six Dynasties period
Mode d'acquisition : Donation of Friends with the support of Mr François Pinault, Mr and Mrs Yves Mahé, Mr Jacques Barrère, the Antoni Laurent Foundation, a group of forty seven art amateurs and financial support of the City of Paris
  • Musicien céleste

Musicien céleste
© Musée Cernuschi