This wooden sculpture decorated with gold laquer depicts the Bodhisattva. It originates from Zezhoufu in the Shanxi Province and is believed to have been created between 1271-1368, the Yuan dynasty. In the 13th century, it became popular to decorate sculptures with raised designs in gesso before applying gold lacquer. In Mahayana Buddhism, bodhisattva is the Sanskrit term for a being with bodhi (enlightenment). A bodhisattva is anyone who, motivated by great compassion, has generated bodhicitta, which is a spontaneous wish to attain buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. A bodhisattva is one of the four sublime states a human can achieve in life (the others being an arhat,buddha or pratyeka buddha).
Usage of the term bodhisattva has evolved over time. In early Indian Buddhism, for example, the term bodhisattva was primarily used to refer specifically to Gautama Buddha in his former lives. The Jataka tales, which are the stories of the Buddha's lives, depict the various attempts of the bodhisattva to embrace qualities like self-sacrifice and morality.
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