Pratapaditya Pal, Prologomena to a Study of a Portable Buddhist Shrine

Portable shrine with Five Transcendental Buddhas. Central Asia, 7th century? Carbon Dating: C.E. 400 +/- 45 years. Sandalwood. 34.5 x 21 cm (12 1/2 x 8 1/2 in.)

This article provides an art-historical analysis of a sandalwood panel representing the Five Transcendental Buddhas of the Vajrayana Pantheon of Buddhism. It has purportedly come out of Tibet but was probably carved somewhere in the Silk Route in Central Asia. The problem is further complicated by the fact that C14 tests date the object as early as the 5th century C.E., but both the art-historical and textual evidence indicate a later date.