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The Boston Globe

Theater & art

Frame by Frame

A work of enduring mysteries, memories

It’s very beautiful, very old (about 1,500 years), and very reassuring. And couldn’t we all do with a bit of that?

It’s also congested with mystery. Scholars still don’t know whether this larger-than-life-size limestone sculpture, one of the earliest and finest Chinese pieces in the superlative Asian collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, represents a bodhisattva — an enlightened being fired by compassion to help all other living beings — or a Maitreya, a so-called “Budhha of the Future.”

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