Crowned Buddha

Historical period(s)
Pala-Sena dynasty, 11th century
H x W x D (overall): 101.7 x 76.7 x 23.8 cm (40 1/16 x 30 3/16 x 9 3/8 in)
Eastern India, Bengal or Bihar
Credit Line
Purchase — funds provided by the Friends of Asian Arts
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Sculpture, Stone

Buddhist sculpture

bhumisparsha mudra, Buddha, Buddhism, India, Pala-Sena dynasty (750 - 1100)

To at least 1973
Mr. and Mrs. Marinos Costelletos [1]

To 1998
Rossi & Rossi, Ltd., London, to 1998

From 1998
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Rossi & Rossi, Ltd. in 1998


[1] Inscription in red ink on back indicates loan to the Brooklyn Museum. According to Curatorial Note 4 in the object record, the object was on loan to the Brooklyn Museum from Mr. and Mrs. Marinos Consteletos until May 18, 1973, when it was released to a shipping company and forwarded to Sotheby's in London.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Rossi & Rossi, Ltd.
Marino Costelletos


This majestic stele of the Buddha was created at a time when the many monastic universities of eastern India, located within the kingdom of the Pala and Sena kings (reigned eighth to twelfth century), were known across the Buddhist world for their art and learning. Seated against a lightly incised throne, with one hand in his lap and the other extended to touch the lotus seat, the once-haloed Buddha, adorned with a tall crown and heavy necklace, exudes an air of impassive serenity. His earth-touching gesture refers to the occasion immediately prior to his enlightenment when, as prince Siddhartha, he called upon the earth to bear witness to his victory over Mara, the evil one of Buddhism. Siddhartha had founded the simple path of Buddhism sometime during the fifth century B.C., after renouncing his princely status, abandoning palatial luxury, and exchanging his crown and regal garments for a simple robe. Ironically, the later Buddhism of eastern India returned to the Buddha the crown and jewels he had renounced, visualizing them as part of his transfiguring radiance.

Pala images of the size, stature, and quality of this crowned Buddha are rare. This stele represents the final efflorescence of Buddhist art in India before the faith disappeared from the country of its origin to survive largely in the adjoining Himalayan regions.

Published References
  • 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. 166-67.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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