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

Seated Buddha

Figure
3rd century-4th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

A large-scale image of the Buddha seated cross-legged in a yogic posture (padmasana), his hands resting in a meditation position. The Buddha is deep in meditation, a model yogi. He wears his monastic robe over both shoulders in a manner closely associated with the Gandharan school of Kushan Buddhist art, though it is also known as Mathura. The robes are treated with deep folds and pleats that animate the figure and are masterfully conceived. The robes covers all his body, revealing only his hands and one foot which projects from beneath the robe. The Buddha is seated on a cushioned throne support, with lion-claw legs and drawn drapery. Beneath the throne-seat is a scene in which the Buddha is shown, with uncut hair before his renunciation, attended by followers and others paying homage to him. This scene alludes to the earlier (and failed) paths that the Sakyamuni pursued before gaining an understanding of the true path and pursuing the Middle Way.

The Buddha’s head displays a fully developed skull protuberance (ushnisa), in which the top-knot flourish of hair seen in earlier images has been conventionalised into a formal supernatural auspicious mark (laksana). A large unadorned halo frames the Buddha’s head. This is an image of great majesty and quiet authority, a quintessential icon of the Buddha as the master of yoga.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Schist
Brief Description
Buddha seated in meditation, schist, Gandhara, Pakistan, 3rd-4th century
Physical Description
Grey schist figure of the Buddha seated crossed-legged. He is draped in flowing robes and has a nimbus. His hands are clasped in front of him. The base has carved figures, including a smaller seated Buddha.
Dimensions
  • Height: 119cm
  • Width: 58cm
  • Depth: 30cm
  • Weight: 290kg
Style
Gallery Label
  • Buddha Seated in Meditation AD 200–400 Ancient Gandhara Pakistan Schist Works such as this, made in the ancient kingdom of Gandhara, show the influence of classical sculpture. This is the result of former Greek rule in the area and more recent trade with the Roman Empire. The meditating Buddha sits cross-legged on a cushioned throne, his hands resting in his lap in the gesture of meditation, or dhyana mudra. Bequest of Dr E. May Museum no. IS.108-2001 400–200(1/4/2009)
  • Buddha Seated in Meditation AD 200–400 Kushan dynasty The ancient region of Gandhara, in present day Pakistan and Afghanistan, was a source of early images of the Buddha. Here, the meditating Buddha sits cross-legged, in the gesture of meditation, or dhyana mudra. The facial features and robes show the influence of classical sculpture. Alexander the Great conquered parts of Central Asia in the 4th century BC, and established settlements there. The Greek influence in the region lasted for many centuries. Gandhara, Pakistan Schist Museum no. IS.108-2001 400–200(03/08/2015)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Dr Edward May
Object history
Bequest of Dr Edward May
Summary
A large-scale image of the Buddha seated cross-legged in a yogic posture (padmasana), his hands resting in a meditation position. The Buddha is deep in meditation, a model yogi. He wears his monastic robe over both shoulders in a manner closely associated with the Gandharan school of Kushan Buddhist art, though it is also known as Mathura. The robes are treated with deep folds and pleats that animate the figure and are masterfully conceived. The robes covers all his body, revealing only his hands and one foot which projects from beneath the robe. The Buddha is seated on a cushioned throne support, with lion-claw legs and drawn drapery. Beneath the throne-seat is a scene in which the Buddha is shown, with uncut hair before his renunciation, attended by followers and others paying homage to him. This scene alludes to the earlier (and failed) paths that the Sakyamuni pursued before gaining an understanding of the true path and pursuing the Middle Way.



The Buddha’s head displays a fully developed skull protuberance (ushnisa), in which the top-knot flourish of hair seen in earlier images has been conventionalised into a formal supernatural auspicious mark (laksana). A large unadorned halo frames the Buddha’s head. This is an image of great majesty and quiet authority, a quintessential icon of the Buddha as the master of yoga.
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.115, pl. 2.
  • Orientations; vol. 40. no. 4; May 2009; The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum. Clarke, John: Buddhist Sculpture, p. 36.
  • L'escultura en el temples indis : l'art de la devoció : exposició organitzada per la Fundació "La Caixa" i el Victoria & Albert Museum, Londres. [Barcelona: Obra social, Fundació "la Caixa", c2007 Number: 9788476649466p.133, Cat.89
Collection
Accession Number
IS.108-2001

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record createdDecember 18, 2001
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