Shakyamuni (possibly Akshobhya) Buddha

Historical period(s)
13th century
Copper alloy with copper and silver inlay, traces of pigments
H x W x D: 38.5 × 26 × 17.6 cm (15 3/16 × 10 1/4 × 6 15/16 in)
Western Tibet, Guge
Credit Line
The Alice S. Kandell Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 26a: The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room
Metalwork, Sculpture


Akshobhya Buddha, Alice S. Kandell Collection, Buddhism, Shakyamuni Buddha, Tibet
Provenance research underway.

The historical Buddha Shakyamuni (sage of the Lion Clan) lived and taught in northern India from approximately 480 – 400 BCE. Seated Shakyamuni images are characteristically represented with the left hand holding a begging bowl and the right hand lowered in the earth-touching gesture that signifies the moment of enlightenment.

With its subtle musculature and alertly lifted head, this seated Buddha Shakyamuni is a refined example of western Tibetan sculpture from the thirteenth century. Among its noteworthy qualities are an overall energy that results from the sculpture’s fluid linearity and crisp carving, the sophistication of its ornamental designs, and the balance and liveliness of the of the double-lotus pedestal.

The Buddha’s fingernails and the hems of his garment, the leaves on the patterned textile cloth draping over the front of the pedestal, and the pedestal band (framed by tows of tiny beads) are inlaid with copper.

Published References
  • Marylin M. Rhie, Robert A.F. Thurman. A Shrine for Tibet: The Alice S. Kandell Collection. New York and London. I-7a, b, 63.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
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