Head of Buddha, 9th century

  • Korean

Cast iron

  • Framed: Overall: 22 1/2 × 16 1/2 × 15 1/2 inches, 90 pounds (57.2 × 41.9 × 39.4 cm, 40.8 kg)

Founders Society Purchase with funds from an anonymous bequest, the Joseph H. Boyer Memorial Fund, Macauley Fund, K. T. Keller Fund, G. Albert Lyon Foundation Fund, L. A. Young Fund, funds from an anonymous donor, Michigan Bell an Ameritech Company, Dr. and Mrs. Chan Kee Park, Simeon H. Stoddard, Mrs. Charles M. Endicott, an anonymous donor, Lee and Tina Hills, Dr. and Mrs. Kyung Soo Kim, Dr. and Mrs. Byung Soon Lee, Detroit Edison Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Souris, Mr. and Mrs. Karel Bass, the Mr. and Mrs. Walter Buhl Ford II Fund, Dr. and Mrs. John Balian, Mr. and Mrs. Phillip L. Bittker, Gerald W. Chamberlin Foundation, Inc., Hilda R. Ettenheimer, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Feldman, Thomas G. Jordan, Mr. and Mrs. Alan M. Kiriluk, Larson Family Foundation, Dr. and Mrs. Kyung Woong Moon, Mr. and Mrs. Morton L. Scholnick, Alan and Marianne Schwartz, The Stroh Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Robert S. Taubman, Mrs. Charles C. Andrews, Mrs. George M. Endicott, Howard and Marion Gifford, Dr. and Mrs. Reginald Harnett, Dr. and Mrs. Kim K. Lie, Hon. and Mrs. Joseph M. Impastato, Mr. and Mrs. Peter W. Stroh, and other contributors


On View

  • Buddhist Art N1B


Asian Art

  • Iron
  • Sculpture
  • Cast
  • Chipped
  • Unified silla
  • Head
  • Buddha

This twice-life-size head was probably part of a colossal seated Buddha enshrined in a temple. Even as a fragment, this head projects an aura of great psychological and spiritual power. The angular face with deeply incised horizontal eyes and crescent-shaped brows are distinguishing Korean stylistic features within the international style of Buddhist art. These features combine with the soft naturalistic rendering of the nose and mouth to create a sense of transcendent yet approachable authority.


(Mayuyama and Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan); 1988-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Published References

DeGrace, Maragaret. “This Month’s Cover: Head of Buddha.” Detroit Athletic Club News, April 1988, pp. 4-5. Best, Jonathan W. “Object of the Month: Unified Silla Period Cast iron Buddha Head at the Detroit Institute of Arts.” Orientations 19, no. 9 (September 1988): pp. 54-55. Bulletin of the DIA 64, no. 2/3 (1988): cover (ill.). Best, Jonathan W. "An early Korean cast-iron Head of Buddha." Bulletin of the DIA 65, no. 4. 1990, pp. 12-25, 12-13 (figs. 1-2).

Rights Status

Korean, Head of Buddha, 9th century, cast iron. Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase with funds from an anonymous bequest, the Joseph H. Boyer Memorial Fund, et al., 1988.1.