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The McClung Museum recently acquired an important early Chinese Buddhist sculpture, which is currently on view at the museum.

The piece was given to the museum by Colin Johnstone and John Fong of Boston, Massachusetts, who are collectors of Chinese art.

Stela with Buddha Sakyamuni, Northern Wei Dynasty (386–534), China, Painted Limestone, Gift of Drs. Colin Johnstone and John Fong, 2015.11.1.

The stela, or relief sculpture, is made of painted limestone and once would have graced a Buddhist temple. It serves as an important example of the first distinctively Chinese style of Buddhist art, which emerged during the Northern Wei dynasty (386–534). In it, a central Buddha figure is flanked by dragons, lotus flowers, and two bodhisattvas, or heavenly beings.

“In recent years, we have been able to add noteworthy pieces to our Chinese art collection,” said Jeff Chapman, McClung Museum director. “This sculpture is an extraordinarily significant addition, and we are delighted to have it on display for all to see at the museum.”

Fittingly, the sculpture sits at the entrance to the museum’s current special exhibition, Embodying Enlightenment: Buddhist Art of the Himalayas, which runs through January 3, 2016, and explores the rich history of Buddhist art from Tibet, Nepal, China, and India spanning the eighth century to the present.

The stela also complements the museum’s notable Chinese art collection, which includes a sixth–century Northern Wei stone double Buddha sculpture, also a gift of Johnstone and Fong; a large collection of ceramics and gilt pieces from the Tang dynasty (618–906) from Simone and Alan Hartman; and other examples of important Chinese art traditions that continue today, including a Ming dynasty (1368–1644) censer, or incense burner; a fine selection of Chinese porcelains; and an eighteenth–century ancestor portrait painting.

The McClung Museum is located at 1327 Circle Park Drive. Museum admission is free, and the museum’s hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays. Free two-hour museum parking passes are available from the parking kiosk at the entrance to Circle Park Drive during the week. Free parking is available on the weekends. Free public transportation to the museum is also available via the Knoxville Trolley Vol Line.


Debbie Woodiel (865-974-2144,

Cat Shteynberg (865-974-2921,