Shakyamuni Buddha

Historical period(s)
mid -18th century
Gilt copper alloy, copper and silver inlays, with pigments
H x W x D: 32 × 22.3 × 17.3 cm (12 5/8 × 8 3/4 × 6 13/16 in)
Mongolia or Tibet, Dolonnor
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


Alice S. Kandell Collection, Buddhism, Mongolia, Shakyamuni Buddha
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.  Reaching down in the earth-touching gesture, this shakyamuni Buddha appears almost amused by the attempts of the demon Mara to distract him from enlightenment.

The large devotional image combines elements of Buddhist sculptural traditions from India, Tibet and China. The fluid drape of his garment, particularly the very nicely realized cascade of pleats fanning onto the pedestal, is indebted to Chinese imagery; the triangular torso and broad shoulders are well-established Indo-Tibetan conventions. The cold-gold paint on the Buddha’s face, a Tibetan technique, has a soft quality, a patina that suggests age.

Published References
  • Marylin M. Rhie, Robert A.F. Thurman. A Shrine for Tibet: The Alice S. Kandell Collection. New York and London. I-9a, b, 66-67.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
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