Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice Across Asia

A Bodhisattva without Jewels

? ?

Bodhisattvas typically wear lavish clothing and jewelry. This small bronze, however, resembles an ascetic, one who has given up worldly riches to attain spiritual insight. He has the matted hair (tied in a conical topknot) of an Indian holy man, and he wears only a simple loincloth—no crown, no bracelets, no silk sarong.

Other images from this region also represent bodhisattvas as renouncers. There may have been a local practice of venerating bodhisattvas for their spiritual accomplishments rather than for their interventions in the world.

Bodhisattva Maitreya or Avalokiteshvara
Northeastern Thailand, Khorat plateau, Prasat Hin Khao Plai Bat II, 7th century
Copper alloy with high tin content and silver inlay
Gift of Ann and Gilbert Kinney; Arthur M. Sackler Gallery S2015.24

Return to Buddha Across Borders