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Seated Buddha

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Gandhara (made)

  • Date:

    3rd century-4th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Dr Edward May

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Buddhism, Room 47f, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Galleries of Buddhist Art, case PL6

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.

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.

Place of Origin

Gandhara (made)


3rd century-4th century (made)



Materials and Techniques



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

Object history note

Bequest of Dr Edward May

Descriptive line

Buddha seated in meditation, schist, Gandhara, Pakistan, 3rd-4th 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.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.

p.133, Cat.89
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: 9788476649466

Labels and date

Buddha Seated in Meditation
AD 200–400
Ancient Gandhara
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
Gandhara, Pakistan
Museum no. IS.108-2001
400–200 [03/08/2015]


Sculpture; Buddhism


South & South East Asia Collection

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