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Seated Buddha

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Mathura (made)

  • Date:

    early 3rd century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Sculpted sandstone

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with Art Fund support, and the assistance of The Anthony Gardner Memorial Fund and an anonymous donor

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Buddhism, Room 47f, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Galleries of Buddhist Art, case PL5

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.

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.

Place of Origin

Mathura (made)


early 3rd century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Sculpted sandstone


Height: 119 cm, Width: 58 cm, Depth: 30 cm, Weight: 290 kg

Object history note

Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund, the Antony Gardner Memorial Fund, and a private donor.

Descriptive line

Seated Buddha figure in pleated robes, torso with missing head and hands, pink mottled sandstone, Mathura, early 3rd century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

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
p.20, pl.10
Guy, John Indian temple sculpture . London: V&A Publications, 2007

Labels and date

Torso of a Seated Buddha
AD 200–50
Kushan dynasty
Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, North India
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
Museum no. IS.213-2006 [03/08/2015]

Production Note

Mathura style, Uttar Pradesh, northern India, possibly the region of Kausambi.



Subjects depicted



Buddhism; Sculpture


South & South East Asia Collection

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