Standing Buddha

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

Buddhist sculpture

Buddha, Buddhism, Gupta dynasty (300 - 699), India, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

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, IL, December 2017. p. 172, fig. 18.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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