The AMICA Library
AMICA Library Year:
Asian; Southeast Asian; Burmese
Buddha Shakyamuni with Kneeling Worshippers
Creation Start Date:
Creation End Date:
Materials and Techniques:
Gilt copper alloy
H. 16 in. (40.6 cm); W. 14 3/4 in. (37.5 cm)
New York, New York, USA
Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
The art of Myanmar remains the least studied among the traditions of Southeast Asia, in part owing to a lack of available material. The art of the Pagan period (849-1287), when Myanmar was a major political and economic force in Southeast Asia and an important center for the practice of Buddhism, remains the best known. This bronze Buddha seated in the lotus posture is dated to the 14th or 15th century. He holds his right hand in the earth-touching gesture (bhumisparshamudra) and his left hand in the gesture of meditation (dhyanamudra). The position and posture of the Buddha, his idealized form, and the stylized depiction of his drapery--in particular the way in which the shawl is draped twice over the left shoulder--continue visual traditions from the art of the Pagan period, but several details help to date this sculpture to a later time. These include the Buddha's slim waist; his long fingers and toes, each of equal length; the casting of the lotus pedestal in two parts; and the dense geometric decoration incised into the central part of this pedestal. On the base are two lions and an image of the earth goddess wringing her hair to wash away Mara's hordes, a reference to one of the Eight Great Events of Shakyamuni's life prior to his enlightenment, when he vanquished the demon Mara and the forces of illusion. Two small figures of monks, each of whom holds a piece of cloth between folded hands, are attached to the base. These monks are Mogallana and Shariputra, two of Shakyamuni's most important disciples, who symbolize the importance of skill and knowledge in the search for enlightenment. Historical disciples such as Mogallana and Shariputra are more important in Theravada--an austere branch of Buddhism based on early scriptures in the Pala language--than in other branches of Buddhism, and the prominence given to such images in later Myanmarese art reflects the influence of this branch.
Related Document Description:
Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, , p. 43.
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