North or Eastern Indian / Buddha / 6th centuryNorth or Eastern Indian
6th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Dates/Places: North or Eastern Indian
Creator Active Place: North or Eastern Indian
Creator Name-CRT: North or Eastern Indian
Title: Buddha
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 500
Creation End Date: 599
Creation Date: 6th century
Creation Place: India, possibly Bihar
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Copper alloy
Dimensions: H. 19 3/8 in. (49.2 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.009
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: This bronze sculpture of the Buddha exemplifies the continuing strength of Gupta-style conventions, particularly in northeastern India, during the 6th and 7th centuries. The Gupta period, which lasted from about 319 to about 500, was a period of enormous prosperity and flourishing in the arts. A relatively uniform style is found in sculpture throughout the Gupta empire. This "classic" style spread through much of India, and proceeded to influence the art of places as diverse as Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Java, contributing significantly to the development of religious art, both Buddhist and Hindu in Southeast Asia.

The city of Sarnath, located in Uttar Pradesh in north-central India, was one of the major centers for the production of sculpture during the Gupta period, and it is the style of sculpture produced in this city during the last quarter of the fifth century that best exemplifies the art of the imperial Gupta period. Sculptures from Sarnath are characterized by their graceful bodies, relaxed postures, downcast eyes, slight introspective smiles, clinging drapery, and refined details. The Buddha illustrated here follows the conventions established at Sarnath. He has the classic oval face, almond-shaped eyes, broad nose, and full lips typical of Sarnath-school representations. He stands in the abhanga posture, in which one leg is slightly bent to give a feeling of potential movement. His right hand is raised in the ritual gesture of reassurance (abhayamudra). He wears a monk's robe consisting of two large rectangular pieces of cloth, one of which is wrapped around his waist while the other is draped over his shoulders. The garments are almost transparent so as to emphasize the perfection of the Buddha's physical form. He grasps a piece of unattached cloth in his left hand; this cloth may reflect a misunderstanding of an earlier visual tradition in which the Buddha holds the end of his shawl in his left hand.

Subtle differences distinguish this Buddha from earlier prototypes: his shoulders are marginally broader in proportion to the overall physique, his facial features slightly blunter, and the center of his hairline is more pointed. Moreover, his posture is slightly more rigid than that of Sarnath-type Buddhas. This rigidity, the fuller thighs, and the greater attention paid to the edges of his dhoti and shawl help date this image to the 6th century. Similar characteristics are found on stone sculptures produced in the areas around Bodhgaya in Bihar Province to the east of Uttar Pradesh, and it is possible that this powerful bronze sculpture is an early example of the Buddhist art of that region.

Related Document Description: Asher, Frederick M. The Art of Eastern India, 300-800. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980, p. 59, pl. 99.
Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 10.
Related Document Description: Chutiwongs, Nandana, and Denise Patry Leidy. Buddha of the Future: An Early Maitreya from Thailand. New York: Asia Society Galleries, distributed by University of Washington Press, 1994, p. 20.
Related Document Description: Czuma, Stanislaw J. 'A Gupta Style Bronze Buddha.' Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art (February 1970), pp. 54, 58, 64-65.
Related Document Description: Huntington, Susan L. 'Pre Pala and Pala Period Sculptures in the Rockefeller Collection.' Apollo (November 1983), pp. 375-77.
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. 111.
Related Document Description: Schroeder, Ulrich von. Indo-Tibetan Bronzes. Hong Kong: Visual Dharma, 1981, pp. 204-06, 208, 212-13.
Related Document Description: Young, Mahonri Sharp. 'Treasures of the Orient: A Rockefeller Collection.' Apollo (November 1970), p. 329.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.009
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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