Standing Buddha

Standing, the right leg slightly bent, on a plinth showing fragments of small, flanking donors in anjalimudra, the Buddha wearing a monastic robe covering both shoulders, the fold of the robe indicated by ridges following the contours of the body, the left hand holding the robe which falls in cascading folds, the left hand, missing, originally in abhayamudra, small fragments of the original halo showing at each shoulder, the back plain except for where the ridges of the robe continue, particularly on the reverse of the left shoulder.

The sculpture depicts a standing figure on a low rectangular base. The head and right hand of the figure are missing. At the feet of the figure are portions of the legs of two small kneeling figures which are now lost. While the front and sides are fully carved, the back is roughly flat and undetailed except at the sides where the carving of the folds of the robes continues around from the front for a short distance. The stone appears to be the red sandstone typical of the Mathura region.

… Read More

Historical period(s)
Gupta dynasty, 320-485
Medium
Red sikri sandstone
Dimensions
H x W x D: 134.6 x 58.4 x 30.4 cm (53 x 23 x 11 15/16 in)
Geography
India, Mathura
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1994.17
On View Location
Freer Gallery 02: Body Image: Arts of the Indian Subcontinent
Classification(s)
Sculpture, Stone
Type

Buddhist sculpture

Keywords
Buddha, Buddhism, Gupta dynasty (300 - 699), India
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Description

Standing, the right leg slightly bent, on a plinth showing fragments of small, flanking donors in anjalimudra, the Buddha wearing a monastic robe covering both shoulders, the fold of the robe indicated by ridges following the contours of the body, the left hand holding the robe which falls in cascading folds, the left hand, missing, originally in abhayamudra, small fragments of the original halo showing at each shoulder, the back plain except for where the ridges of the robe continue, particularly on the reverse of the left shoulder.

The sculpture depicts a standing figure on a low rectangular base. The head and right hand of the figure are missing. At the feet of the figure are portions of the legs of two small kneeling figures which are now lost. While the front and sides are fully carved, the back is roughly flat and undetailed except at the sides where the carving of the folds of the robes continues around from the front for a short distance. The stone appears to be the red sandstone typical of the Mathura region.

Label

Standing with one leg slightly bent, this commanding image of the Buddha was created by artists at Mathura, an important center of art in the kingdom of the Gupta monarchs (ca. 320-485 C. E.). The artists selectively combined elements from earlier traditions to create the quintessential Gupta Buddha image. From the Greco-Roman tradition of Gandhara, Gupta sculptors borrowed the monastic robe that covered both shoulders, transforming its folds into a network of strings; from their own earlier Mathura tradition they retained the sensuous, full-bodied form of the Buddha. The sensitive handling of the stone reveals the ridge created at the waist by the draped sarong-like undergarment whose lower edge peeks out at the ankles.The Buddha's left hand holds the folds of the robe, while the right was originally raised in the gesture of protection. Despite its missing head, this is a singularly important image that conveys the power and majesty of the Gupta style, and would have been the focus of veneration  within a major Buddhist shrine. 

The Gupta-style Buddha was a source of inspiration for the entire Buddhist world, including land-bound Nepal and Tibet, the island of Sri Lanka, and the Southeast Asian countries of Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Java.  Each area took the Gupta ideal and developed it along its own lines.  Even Chinese pilgrims to India carried portable bronze Guptas back to their homeland.

Published References
  • Paths to Perfection, Buddhist Art at the Freer/Sackler. Washington. pp. 34-35.
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 165-166.
  • Donald S. Lopez Jr, Rebecca Bloom. Hyecho's Journey: The World of Buddhism. Chicago, December 2017. p. 172, fig. 18.
  • Willow Weilan Hai. "策展哲学." Philosophy of Curation. Nanning City, Guangxi Zhuang, China, September 2021. p. 246, fig. 119.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.