Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Birth of the Buddha

Pala period
11th century
India (Madhya Pradesh or Bihar)
Black stone
H. 24 1/4 in. (61.6 cm); W. 15 1/2 in. (39.4 cm); D. 7 1/2 in. (19.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gift of Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler, Theresa Sackler and Family, and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 2007
Accession Number:
Not on view
Queen Maya reaches up to grasp a branch and miraculously gives birth to the Buddha. Emphasis is given to the representation of Maya, who affirms her status as both a yakshi (female nature deity) and the mother of the historical Buddha. The newborn Buddha is shown a second time, standing on flower petals receiving his first bath. Such an iconic representation of Maya reflects the status that Taras (female bodhisattvas) had assumed in the esoteric Buddhist communities of eastern India.
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