Kashmiri or Pakistani / Buddha Shakyamuni / 8th-9th centuryKashmiri or Pakistani
Buddha Shakyamuni
8th-9th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Pakistani; Kashmiri
Creator Name-CRT: Kashmiri or Pakistani
Title: Buddha Shakyamuni
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 700
Creation End Date: 899
Creation Date: 8th-9th century
Creation Place: Kashmir or northern Pakistan
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: ivory
Dimensions: H. 3 7/8 in. (9.8 cm); W. 2 7/8 in. (7.3 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.042
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Rights: http://www.asiasociety.org
Context: This small ivory relief exhibits the pronounced facial features that some scholars suggest indicate a provenance of northern Pakistan--specifically the Swat Valley region--rather than Kashmir. However, several sculptures of this type are known, believed to have been used to decorate wooden shrines or stupas, and most are considered to be from 8th- or 9th-century Kashmir. The attenuated torso and the stylized, nearly vertical drapery folds here suggest a 9th-century date. The posture and gesture of the central figure of the Buddha on this deeply carved relief indicate he is in meditation. Two snarling lions stand beneath the Buddha, while numerous small figures are seated to each side. The two figures at the top have the emaciated bodies of ascetics. All of the subsidiary figures sit in relaxed postures, and most of them have a beltlike meditation strap (yogapatta) tied around the waist and one knee.

Most reliefs from Kashmir illustrate scenes from the life of the Historical Buddha. Two interpretations may be suggested for the iconography of this one. It has been identified as an image of Shakyamuni meditating prior to his preaching of the Lotus Sutra (Saddharmapundarika Sutra), but it might represent the visit of the Hindu god Indra to Shakyamuni while he was meditating in a cave because similar ivories with accompanying images of Indra are also known. While it is not possible to identify the precise scene represented in this sculpture, the emphasis on certain moments in the life of the Buddha found in such ivory sculptures exemplifies the way in which earlier themes were preserved in the art of Kashmir.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 22.
Related Document Description: Lee, Sherman E. Asian Art: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd--Part II. New York: Asia Society, 1975, pp. 10, 11, 20.
Related Document Description: Lerner, Martin. The Flame and the Lotus: Indian and Southeast Asian Art from the Kronos Collection. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art and Harry N. Abrams, 1984, p. 77, note 2.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.042
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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