Fasting Buddha Shakyamuni

Period: Kushan period

Date: 3rd–5th century

Culture: Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara)

Medium: Schist

Dimensions: H. 10 15/16 in. (27.8 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Samuel Eilenberg Collection, Ex Coll.: Columbia University, Purchase, Rogers, Dodge, Harris Brisbane Dick and Fletcher Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1987

Accession Number: 1987.218.5


After reaching enlightenment at Bodhgaya, Shakyamuni meditated and fasted for forty-nine days. Thus, showing him as an emaciated renouncer relates to his enlightenment and his status as a yogic ascetic who has ultimate control over his body. Other characteristics that relate to his enlightenment include the kusha grass on which he sits and the scene on the base, which shows the Buddha's first sermon, at Sarnath.