Tibetan / Buddha Shakyamuni / 11th centuryTibetan
Buddha Shakyamuni
11th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Tibetan
Creator Name-CRT: Tibetan
Title: Buddha Shakyamuni
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1000
Creation End Date: 1099
Creation Date: 11th century
Creation Place: Tibet
Object Type: Sculpture
Classification Term: Bronzes
Materials and Techniques: Copper alloy with copper overlay and inlays of silver
Dimensions: H. 5 5/8 in. (14.3 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.089
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Rights: http://www.asiasociety.org
Context: Tibetan sculpture is characterized by a conservative and complicated iconography, and the acceptance and adaptation of figures, facial types, and clothing associated with many other cultures and various eras. This image of Shakyamuni Buddha seated in the meditative lotus posture (padmasana) with his right hand in the gesture of touching the earth (bhumisparshamudra) illustrates the impact of the iconography and style of Pala-period Indian sculpture on Tibetan art. Images of the Buddha with this pose and gesture were the most important icons in the art of the Pala period. Shakyamuni sits on a cushion decorated with flowing vines and the face of a lion, and two lions, two standing elephants, and two small figures are depicted on the base of the sculpture. The figure holding the vase represents the earth goddess whom Shakyamuni invoked in his battle with Mara and his demonic hoards. The figure seated in the posture of relaxation probably represents the donor of the sculpture. The rather abstract face and figure of the Buddha derive from traditions common in the art of the Pala period.

The distinctive use of two colors of metal in this piece may reflect a practice recorded in the writings of the Tibetan scholar and teacher Padma Dkarpol (1524-1592), in which sculptures are described as being made of both white and red brass. The darker color used for the Buddha's robe has been linked to the metals found in western Tibetan sculpture that are characterized by that area's longstanding ties to Kashmir. This robe may also refer to the red robes worn by monks of the Sakya order, which was prominent in central Tibet.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 43.
Related Document Description: Huntington, John C. 'Three Essays on Himalayan Metal Images.' Apollo (November 1983), pp. 416-18.
Related Document Description: Huntington, Susan L., and John C. Huntington. Leaves from the Bodhi Tree: The Art of Pala India (8th-12th Centuries) and Its International Legacy. Dayton and Seattle: Dayton Art Institute and University of Washington Press, 1990, pp. 372-73.
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. 29, 33.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.089
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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