Detail View: The AMICA Library: Buddha

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Creator Nationality: 
Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Dates/Places: 
North Indian
Creator Name-CRT: 
North Indian
Full view
Creation Date: 
Gupta period, late 5th-early 6th century
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Copper alloy
Creation Place: 
H. 14 1/8 in. (35.9 cm)
AMICA Contributor: 
Asia Society
Owner Location: 
New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
This seated Buddha holds his hands in the preaching gesture (dharmachakramudra). His broad shoulders, full torso, and clinging drapery continue stylistic traditions found in the city of Sarnath during the imperial Gupta period (c. 319-c. 500). On the other hand, the proportions of the face and physique are more elongated than is common in Buddhas from Sarnath and other sites in Uttar Pradesh. This is most evident in his folded legs, which are noticeably long in proportion to his torso. A similar subtle elongation is found at sites such as Bhitargaon and in northeast India, making it difficult to suggest a provenance for this piece.

The bump, or ushnisha, on top of the Buddha's head signifies his advanced spiritual state and great knowledge. The elongated earlobes refer to his early life as a prince, when he wore heavy earrings, which remind the faithful that they, too, should reject worldly goods and pleasures. The downcast eyes symbolize the Buddha's understanding and mastery of meditation. The hair is cropped short and shaped like snail shells. All of these are typical features of buddha images. The U-shaped fixture on the back of this Buddha's head was used to attach a large body-halo to the sculpture.

A consecratory inscription carved on the pedestal is often found on Indian sculpture; this creed loosely translates as, "All those phenomena which are born of causes, Tathagata [that is, Buddha] spoke indeed of all those causes, and their cessation (was also preached by him)." This sculpture has been dated on the basis of the paleography of this inscription. It is written in the northern Indian Brahmi script, which was commonly used in the late 5th and early 6th century.

Related Document Description: 
Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 9.
Related Document Description: 
Lee, Sherman E. Asian Art: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd. New York: Asia Society, 1970, pp. 14, 30.
Related Document Description: 
Pal, Pratapaditya. The Ideal Image: The Gupta Sculptural Tradition and Its Influence. New York: Asia Society in association with John Weatherhill, 1978, p. 71.
Related Document Description: 
Schroeder, Ulrich von. Indo-Tibetan Bronzes. Hong Kong: Visual Dharma, 1981, pp. 204, 208, 212-13.
Related Document Description: 
Young, Mahonri Sharp. 'Treasures of the Orient: A Rockefeller Collection.' Apollo (November 1970), pp. 329-39.
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