Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
China, Room 44, The T.T. Tsui Gallery

Sakyamuni Buddha

Figure of Sakyamuni Buddha
15th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Buddhism originated in India from the teachings of an Indian prince, Sakyamuni. He was probably born at the end of the 6th century BC in a small state in Nepal, but decided to renounce his royal position to embark upon a monastic life.

This gilt bronze figure represents a crucial event in Sakyamuni's life. After leaving his palace and and experiencing various spiritual revelations, he sat under a tree waiting for enlightenment, vowing not to move. After resisting the attacks of Mara, the goddess of evil, Sakyamuni summoned up the Earth goddess to bear witness to his achievement. The bronze figure shows Buddha in this precise moment: he is sitting in a meditative posture with his legs crossed, while his right hand extends downward to touch the soil in the symbolic gesture called 'Bhumisparsamudra' (Touching the Earth). The image is nearly entirely gilded, apart from the hair, and was probably once covered by a thin layer of transparent lacquer.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gilt bronze
Brief Description
Figure of Sakyamuni Buddha, gilt bronze, China, 15th century
Physical Description
Figure of Buddha with long earlobes and a protuberance on the top of the head, seated in the 'vajra posture' on a lotus throne; the right hand touches the soil with its second finger, the left hand is in his lap with palm upwards. The robes leave the right shoulder bare. The image is completely gilt apart from the hair, which is black.
Dimensions
  • Height: 93cm
Style
Credit line
Charlotte Alison Shaw Gift
Subjects depicted
Summary
Buddhism originated in India from the teachings of an Indian prince, Sakyamuni. He was probably born at the end of the 6th century BC in a small state in Nepal, but decided to renounce his royal position to embark upon a monastic life.



This gilt bronze figure represents a crucial event in Sakyamuni's life. After leaving his palace and and experiencing various spiritual revelations, he sat under a tree waiting for enlightenment, vowing not to move. After resisting the attacks of Mara, the goddess of evil, Sakyamuni summoned up the Earth goddess to bear witness to his achievement. The bronze figure shows Buddha in this precise moment: he is sitting in a meditative posture with his legs crossed, while his right hand extends downward to touch the soil in the symbolic gesture called 'Bhumisparsamudra' (Touching the Earth). The image is nearly entirely gilded, apart from the hair, and was probably once covered by a thin layer of transparent lacquer.
Collection
Accession Number
FE.58-1977

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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