Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Birth of the Buddha

18th–19th century
Mosaic set in a gilt-silver framework with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, garnets, quartz, pearls, amber, coral, lapis lazuli, turquoise, and semiprecious stones
14 1/2 x 12 1/4 in. (36.8 x 31.1 cm)
Credit Line:
John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1915
Accession Number:
Not on view
At lower right Maya reaches up to grasp the branches of a tree and the Buddha emerges from her side. At lower left, the gods Indra and the four-headed Brahma receive the child. The Buddha appears a second time, standing atop a stack of jeweled lotus flowers, marking the miraculous event of his first steps and bath. Such mosaic panels were placed in personal shrines and temples. The density of precious stones in this composition is astonishing and speaks to the widespread practice of donating jewelry at sacred centers. This example is one of the most elaborate of its type to survive.
[ Lockwood de Forest American, New York 1850–1932 Santa Barbara, California , by 1915, sold to MMA]
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