altar piece

One of an altar set of the Eight Buddhist Emblems, ba ji xiang. Depicts the Umbrella mounted on a lotus pedestal, constructed in two detachable parts. The lotus pedestal consists of a platform surrounded by multi-tiered overlapping lotus petals, raised on a tall stem embellished with four foliate scrolls, set atop a domed embellished base with sea waves, bands of cloud motifs and bosses, and a row of curved petals at the bottom. The umbrella is a symbol of dignity and high rank in China, as it protects wealthy people against rain and sunshine. In Buddhism, it symbolises spiritual power and protection from the cycle of samsara, an eternal cycle of birth, suffering, death, and rebirth. Carved wood covered with red lacquer and gold pigment.

Sets of such altarpieces were placed on the altars of Buddhist temples. See McArthur, M. (2004), 'Reading Buddhist Art: An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist Signs and Symbols', London: Thames & Hudson. Page 119.

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