Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice Across Asia

Mind Palace

F1962.21 carved wooden buddha
? ?

Mandalas are abstract representations of the places where buddhas dwell. Each comprises a particular arrangement of buddhas, bodhisattvas, and other figures within a geometrically ordered palace. Although mandalas are usually meant to be visualized in meditation, they can also be painted and sculpted.

This wooden bodhisattva may have been part of a monumental three-dimensional mandala. Located within a temple, the assemblage would have constituted a powerful space for ritual practice. Almost life-size, the sculptures would have aided practitioners in imagining and internalizing the mandala and its deities, ultimately recognizing no distinction between a buddha and themselves.

Bodhisattva (bosatsu)
Japan, Heian period, late 12th century
Wood with gold leaf
Purchase—Charles Lang Freer Endowment; Freer Gallery of Art F1962.21a–c

Return to Buddha Across Borders