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India, Nelakondapalli, Khammam district, Telangana

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 999

This monumental standing Buddha, composed of limestone quarried near the major monastic site of Nelakondapalli, is among the largest and most complete recovered to date in the ancient territories of Andhra. The figure displays the four auspicious marks (laksanas) of Buddhahood: the spiral of hair on the forehead (urna), tight clockwise spirals of hair all over his head (all that remained after renouncing his royal status and cutting his hair), swelling of the cranium (usnisa), and distended earlobes, a legacy of the heavy jewelry he wore as prince. A fifth feature, the treatment of the eyes, is not described in Buddhist texts. However, observe how the pupils appear to roll back into the skull, indicating the Buddha is in a deep meditative state.

Buddha, Limestone, India, Nelakondapalli, Khammam district, Telangana

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