Kashmiri or Pakistani / Crowned Buddha Shakyamuni / 8th centuryKashmiri or Pakistani
Crowned Buddha Shakyamuni
8th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Pakistani; Kashmiri
Creator Name-CRT: Kashmiri or Pakistani
Title: Crowned Buddha Shakyamuni
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 700
Creation End Date: 799
Creation Date: 8th century
Creation Place: Kashmir or northern Pakistan
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Brass with inlays of copper, silver, and zinc
Dimensions: H. 12 1/4 in. (31.1 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.044
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Rights: http://www.asiasociety.org
Context: The thick, heavily pleated garments worn by this Buddha seated in the center of this elaborate work derive from sculptural traditions that predominated in northwest India during the 2nd to 4th centuries. The Buddha, his hands in the gesture of turning the wheel of the law (dharmachakra), or preaching (dharmachakramudra), is seated on a lotus that rises from a pond inhabited by serpent deities known as nagas. A stupa with a long staircase that leads to a Buddha seated before a niche is on either side, supported on a lotus flower rising from the central stalk. Layered to resemble a rocky mountain ledge, the base of the sculpture has images of a wheel, two guardians, and two deer; the deer help to identify the primary image as Shakyamuni, since their presence in Indian Buddhist art often refers to the Buddha's first sermon at the Deer Park in Sarnath.

On the right and left of the base are images of donors and their attendants, whose costume is reminiscent of Turkic dress, members of the Sahi group who ruled in Kashmir and other northern regions. A long Sanskrit inscription on the front of the base lists the donors as Sankarasena, a government official, and Princess Devashriya: 'This is the pious gift of the devout Sankarasena, the great lord of the elephant brigade, and of the pure-minded and pious Devashriya, made in the second day of Vaishakha in the year 3.' Although the numbers in this inscription are difficult to decipher, a recent study of inscriptions from Kashmir has shown that the sculpture could date to either 714/15 or 733/34.

The distinctive costume worn by the Buddha indicates that the sculpture depicts the consecration (abhisheka) of Shakyamuni as the king of the Tushita Pure Land, the abode of all the buddhas before their final rebirth on earth. The five-pointed crown, the three-pointed cape tied at the back with two strings, and the unusual floral decorations on the Buddha's shoulder have been identified as the primary elements in the iconography of this scene. The development of this iconography and its emphasis on Shakyamuni's consecration in the Tushita Pure Land have been linked to the rise of the Lokottaravadins, a subsect of the Mahasamghikas influential in the development of Mahayana Buddhism. Unlike earlier sects that defined the Buddha as a historical person who had achieved enlightenment, the Mahasamghikas speculated more broadly on the nature of the Buddha, defining him as a supermundane being (lokottara) of unlimited power and longevity. Relying on the Mahavastu, a text compiled from the 1st to 4th centuries, the Mahasamghikas developed a new interpretation of the path to buddhahood that stressed each person's inherent ability to become a buddha. According to this text, each potential buddha passes through ten stages known as bhumis during his spiritual career. In the last of these stages, the prospective buddha resides in the Tushita Pure Land to await his rebirth on earth.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 23.
Related Document Description: Chandra, Pramod. The Sculpture of India: 3000 B.C.-A.D. 1300. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1985, pp. 164-66.
Related Document Description: Deambi, B. K. Kaul. Corpus of Sarada Inscriptions of Kashmir. Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan, 1982, pp. 140-41.
Related Document Description: Fisher, Robert E. 'Buddhist Architecture.' Marg 40, no. 2, p. 23.
Related Document Description: Fisher, Robert E. Buddhist Art and Architecture. London: Thames and Hudson, 1993, pp. 64-65.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Hong Kong and Singapore: Hong Kong Museum of Art and National Museum Singapore, 1993, pp. 62, 63.
Related Document Description: Huntington, John C. 'A Rocky Road for the Silk Route and the Diamond Path Exhibition.' Art Journal 43 (Fall 1983), pp. 262-65.
Related Document Description: Huntington, John C. 'Three Essays on Himalayan Metal Images.' Apollo (November 1983), pp. 417, 423-25.
Related Document Description: Huntington, Susan L. The Art of Ancient India: Buddhist, Hindu, Jain. New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1985, pp. 371-73.
Related Document Description: Klimburg-Salter, Deborah E. 'The Buddhist Painting of the Hindu Kush: Bamiyan, Foladi, Fondukistan, and Kakrak.' Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1976, pp. 220-22.
Related Document Description: Klimburg-Salter, Deborah E., et al. The Silk Route and the Diamond Path: Esoteric Buddhist Art on the Trans-Himalayan Trade Routes. Los Angeles: UCLA Art Council, 1982, pp. 94-95.
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. 20, 21, 31.
Related Document Description: Leidy, Denise Patry. 'Iconography and Provenance: Buddhist Art from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection.' Orientations (March 1993), p. 52.
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, pp. 76-77.
Related Document Description: Miyaji, Akira. 'Lineage and Dating of 'The Decorated Buddha' of Bamiyan.' Ars Buddhica (July 1981), p. 30.
Related Document Description: Namakawa, Banri, and Akira Miyaji. Gandhara Art. Tokyo, 1984, p. 24.
Related Document Description: Pal, Pratapaditya. 'Rockefeller Bronzes: The Indian Tradition.' ARTnews 69 (September 1970), pp. 48-49, 76-77.
Related Document Description: Pal, Pratapaditya. Bronzes of Kashmir. New York: Hacker Art Books, 1975, pp. 106-07.
Related Document Description: Pal, Pratapaditya. 'Off the Silk Route and on the Diamond Path? A Review.' Art International 26 (April-June 1983), pp. 44-59, 65.
Related Document Description: Paul, Pran Gopal. 'Early Sculpture of Kashmir.' Ph.D. diss., University of Leiden, pp. 219ff.
Related Document Description: Ransick, Jean. 'Review of The Silk Route and the Diamond Path.' Oriental Art 29 (Summer 1983), pp. 201-02.
Related Document Description: Rhie, Marylin M., and Robert A. F. Thurman. From the Land of the Snows: Buddhist Art of Tibet. Amherst, Mass.: Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, 1984, p. 15.
Related Document Description: Rowan, Diana P. 'Reconsideration of an Unusual Ivory Diptych.' Artibus Asiae 46 (1985), pp. 265, 269, 274-77.
Related Document Description: Schroeder, Ulrich von. Indo-Tibetan Bronzes. Hong Kong: Visual Dharma, 1981, pp. 107-09, 118.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Tokyo: Idemitsu Museum of Arts, 1992, pp. 48, 122-23.
Related Document Description: Young, Mahonri Sharp. 'Treasures of the Orient: A Rockefeller Collection.' Apollo (November 1970), p. 333.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.044
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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