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Buddhism along the Silk Road

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Seated Buddha Reaching Enlightenment

Date:
11th–12th century
Culture:
Central Tibet
Medium:
Brass with colored pigments
Dimensions:
H. 15 1/2 in. (39.4 cm); W. 10 7/16 in. (26.5 cm); D. 8 5/8 in. (21.9 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace, Oscar L. Tang, Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang and Annette de la Renta Gifts, 2012
Accession Number:
2012.458
  • Description

    It was believed that seeing the perfected form of the Buddha would be equivalent to apprehending the dharma (teachings) and would provide the devotee with immediate access to enlightenment. Only a handful of Tibetan images of the Buddha survive from the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries; this brass sculpture is one of the most exceptional. While drawing on formal precedents established at the Buddhist centers of north India, evident in motifs such as the folds under his crossed ankles and the sharp lines of his eyebrows, the Tibetan artist sensitively rendered the figure in ways that transcend mundane appearance, showing him as an ageless figure with skeletal structures, tendons, veins, and other mortal aspects associated with flesh and blood de-emphasized or omitted entirely. The high ushnisha (an extra brain, shown as a bump on top of his head) is common to both the north Indian and Tibetan traditions, but in this Tibetan example emphasis is placed on flames of enlightened knowledge that emerge from the top.

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
78191

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