Scene from the Life of the Buddha


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 226

This cycle of paintings shows key scenes from the life of the Buddha, Shakyamuni, who was born a prince in ancient north India. Beginning with his birth, his discovery of suffering and confrontation with his own privilege, and continuing through events of his post-enlightenment, these images are a reminder that suffering is the essence of life but that the Buddha’s teachings offer a way out.

This scroll depicts Prince Shakyamuni abandoning palace life after encountering human suffering. At the lower right, Shakyamuni’s father asks women to dance and play musical instruments to entice the prince to remain. The identities of the two women inside the palace and the image of the Buddha ascending on a cloud remain problematic. Judging by the palatial surroundings, the two women could be Shakyamuni’s wife and her lady-in-waiting, in which case the ascending Buddha would signify Shakyamuni’s departure from the palace to pursue enlightenment.

On view for rotations 1 and 2

Scene from the Life of the Buddha, Section of a wall panel mounted as a hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on silk, Japan

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.