Seated Buddha

Sculpture
early 3rd century (made)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Buddhism, Room 47f, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Galleries of Buddhist Art
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is a spectacular sculpture of great presence and historical importance. The over-life sized seated figure of the Buddha, legs crossed tightly in a strict meditative position (padmasana) and chest fully extended with yogic disciplined breath (prana), creates a powerful image. The figure wears a form-defining robe of untailored cloth (sanghati), worn in the monastic manner. The folds of the robes are deeply incised to give the entire figure a remarkable degree of surface animation. The missing hands were in all probability, and judging from extant examples, displaying the protective abaya-mudra gesture with the proper right, and holding the ends of the pleated monastic robes with the raised left hand.The figure is seated on an integrated unadorned plinth.

This sculpture belongs to a select group of related Buddha and Jina images. It compares most closely in terms of proportioning and the stylistic rendering of the robes, with three dated sculptures belonging to the same school. Two were excavated at Kausambi and dated equivalent to 161 AD. The third was recovered at Sravasti, to the east of Mathura, and is inscribed with a date equivalent to 213 AD.

The style of this Buddha, along with these dated examples, represents a clear second-phase in the development of the Buddha-type under the Kushan dynasty. The pure Mathura style begins in this phase - around the second half of the second century - to reflect a strong stylistic dialogue between the Buddhist schools of Mathura and Gandhara. The drawing of the robes over both shoulders, as opposed to the earlier Mathura convention of leaving one shoulder exposed, is an innovation of this period seen at both centres.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Sculpted sandstone
Brief Description
Seated Buddha figure in pleated robes, torso with missing head and hands, pink mottled sandstone, Mathura, early 3rd century
Physical Description
Pink mottled sandstone sculpture of seated male figure with pleated robes, missing head and hands.

Seated Buddha, with highly developed physical displaying 'inner breath' (prana) beneath the articulated folds of the monastic robes. The yogic posture is combined with a communicative Buddha type, gesturing to his followers.
Dimensions
  • Height: 119cm
  • Width: 58cm
  • Depth: 30cm
  • Weight: 290kg
Style
Gallery Label
  • Torso of a Seated Buddha AD 200–50 Kushan dynasty Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, North India Sandstone Some of the earliest images of the Buddha were created at Mathura. As with other early images, the Buddha’s chest is fully expanded with yogic breath or prana. He wears an outer monastic robe (sanghati) drawn up over both shoulders. His now missing right hand was probably raised in a gesture bestowing freedom from fear (abhaya mudra). Purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund and the Anthony Gardner Memorial Fund Museum no. IS.213-2006 200–50(1/4/2009)
  • Torso of Seated Buddha AD 200–250 Kushan dynasty Some of the earliest images of the Buddha were created at Mathura in northern India. As with this figure, they often showed the Buddha’s chest fully expanded with yogic breath, or prana, representing spiritual power. The now missing right hand was probably raised in a gesture bestowing freedom from fear (abhaya mudra). Early Buddhist images were probably inspired by the images of kings and nature spirits also made in North India then, with the same expanded chests and raised right hands. Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, North India Sandstone Museum no. IS.213-2006(03/08/2015)
Credit line
Purchased with Art Fund support, and the assistance of The Anthony Gardner Memorial Fund and an anonymous donor
Object history
Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund, the Antony Gardner Memorial Fund, and a private donor.
Production
Mathura style, Uttar Pradesh, northern India, possibly the region of Kausambi.
Subject depicted
Summary
This is a spectacular sculpture of great presence and historical importance. The over-life sized seated figure of the Buddha, legs crossed tightly in a strict meditative position (padmasana) and chest fully extended with yogic disciplined breath (prana), creates a powerful image. The figure wears a form-defining robe of untailored cloth (sanghati), worn in the monastic manner. The folds of the robes are deeply incised to give the entire figure a remarkable degree of surface animation. The missing hands were in all probability, and judging from extant examples, displaying the protective abaya-mudra gesture with the proper right, and holding the ends of the pleated monastic robes with the raised left hand.The figure is seated on an integrated unadorned plinth.



This sculpture belongs to a select group of related Buddha and Jina images. It compares most closely in terms of proportioning and the stylistic rendering of the robes, with three dated sculptures belonging to the same school. Two were excavated at Kausambi and dated equivalent to 161 AD. The third was recovered at Sravasti, to the east of Mathura, and is inscribed with a date equivalent to 213 AD.



The style of this Buddha, along with these dated examples, represents a clear second-phase in the development of the Buddha-type under the Kushan dynasty. The pure Mathura style begins in this phase - around the second half of the second century - to reflect a strong stylistic dialogue between the Buddhist schools of Mathura and Gandhara. The drawing of the robes over both shoulders, as opposed to the earlier Mathura convention of leaving one shoulder exposed, is an innovation of this period seen at both centres.
Bibliographic References
  • Clarke, John: Arts of Asia, vol. 45, no. 5, September - October 2015, "The Buddha image in Asia: Phase One of the Robert H. N.Ho Family Foundation Galleries of Buddhist Art, p.114, pl. 1.
  • Orientations; vol. 40. no. 4; May 2009; The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum. John Guy; Adoring the Stupa, Adoring the Buddha: Kushan Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum, p.49
  • Guy, John Indian temple sculpture . London: V&A Publications, 2007p.20, pl.10
Collection
Accession Number
IS.213-2006

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record createdSeptember 20, 2006
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