UPDATE: The entire backside of the stele has a whole grid of inscribed Chinese characters in very legible clerical script.
Including the two scriptures on the front, the scholar has identified two more scriptures inscribed on the back, making a total of four Buddhist scriptures. However, he was not able to find any names of donors that may have financed the creation of the stele.
This Chinese Buddhist stone stele (see below) is currently in art storage. It probably dates to 550-577 and depicts the Western Paradise of Amitabha. Once disregarded as either a subordinate stele or a much later reproduction, this stele is now gaining renewed scholarly interest.
The particular interest is in the stele’s inscriptions, actually. The most visible inscription is found on the bottom half of the front side. It contains “The Sutra of Buddha Talking about Guan Shi Yin” and “The Buddha Talking about the Heavenly Duke Scripture.” This inscription has been published in a 1974 survey, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Sculpture in the Avery Brundage Collection. Interestingly, it was also claimed in this publication that “The back of the stele is plain.”
However, there are inscribed letters on not only the backside of the stele but also on its sides. And speculation among scholars recently has been that the inscription contains an important Buddhist work! A Japanese scholar is coming to examine the stele this Friday. I will be there to learn more and be part of this exciting event.
Do come back to this posting as I will update on any findings!
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