Gautama Buddha

Historical period(s)
14th century
Medium
Gilded copper with pigment
Dimensions
H x W x D: 45 x 34 x 27 cm (17 11/16 x 13 3/8 x 10 5/8 in)
Geography
Central Tibet
Credit Line
Purchase -- funds provided by the Friends of Asian Arts in honor of the 10th Anniversary of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1997.28
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 22: Encountering the Buddha
Classification(s)
Metalwork, Sculpture
Type

Buddhist sculpture

Keywords
bhumisparsha mudra, Buddhism, casting, Gautama Buddha, Tibet, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Label

Sitting with one hand in his lap and the other extended downward, this Buddha exudes stillness and serenity. His earth-touching gesture symbolizes the moment of enlightenment, while his golden body, urna (forehead dot), and ushnisha (cranial bump) indicate his superhuman perfection. His patchwork robe and elongated earlobes are reminders that at Bodh Gaya in Bihar the historical Buddha gave up royal garments and heavy earrings to become a renouncer.


The hollow-cast copper image was created for an altar in Tibet, where gold was highly prized for its everlasting radiance. It was gilded in a process that demands skill and precision. A mixture of gold and mercury was applied to the surface and heated until the mercury evaporated and the gold adhered to the copper. The gilded surface then was polished with a smooth stone, and the eyes, mouth, and hair were painted.

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. 168-169.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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