Gautama Buddha

Historical period(s)
14th century
Gilded copper with pigment
H x W x D: 45 x 34 x 27 cm (17 11/16 x 13 3/8 x 10 5/8 in)
Central Tibet
Credit Line
Purchase -- funds provided by the Friends of Asian Arts in honor of the 10th Anniversary of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Arthur M. Sackler Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 22a: The Art of Knowing in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas
Metalwork, Sculpture

Figure; Buddhist sculpture

bhumisparsha mudra, Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, Tibet
Provenance research underway.

Sitting with one hand in his lap and the other extended downward, this Buddha exudes stillness and serenity. His earth-touching gesture symbolizes the moment of enlightenment, while his golden body, urna (forehead dot), and ushnisha (cranial bump) indicate his superhuman perfection. His patchwork robe and elongated earlobes are reminders that at Bodh Gaya in Bihar the historical Buddha gave up royal garments and heavy earrings to become a renouncer.

The hollow-cast copper image was created for an altar in Tibet, where gold was highly prized for its everlasting radiance. It was gilded in a process that demands skill and precision. A mixture of gold and mercury was applied to the surface and heated until the mercury evaporated and the gold adhered to the copper. The gilded surface then was polished with a smooth stone, and the eyes, mouth, and hair were painted.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 168-169.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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