Carved seated wood figure of a Buddha
With polychrome decoration, 13th century, Nepal
多彩, 13世紀, 尼泊爾
Height: 80 cm, 31.5 inches; Width: 56 cm, 22.05 inches
Seated in dhyanasana with hands in bhumisparsa mudra. The Buddha figure has a graceful oval face and a high protuberant usnisa adorned with tight spiral curls painted sapphire blue, topped with a rounded knot symbolic of ultimate wisdom, spirituality,and the attainment of enlightenment. The Buddha’s prominent forehead, full-wide chest, broad and gently curved shoulders, slender waist and strait tall back render the figure’s elegant shape with vigorous energy, serenity and immovable spirit. Some of these physical features symbolise aspects of the Buddha’s spiritual character whilst others draw attention to the concept that his perfectly proportioned body as an outer reflection of inner spiritual power. These are drawn from the ancient Indian concept of the Mahapurusha or ‘Cosmic Being’.
The Buddha’s face bears a calm expression, with gently incised long eyebrows, the eyes half-closed, and the pointed noise with long bridge. The corners of the mouth are indented, the neck folds are sensitively carved, the fingers are beautifully long, and the ear lobes are large and elongated, a reference to his royal background. The figure wears a rasaya and the right shoulder is bare. The fluently spraying short folds of the garment fall from the left shoulder, a characteristic of 13th century Nepalese Buddhist art as also seen in paintings and bronzes. The wood surface bares traces of polychrome decoration, mostly noticeable bright orange, green and sapphire blue. This style of figure most probably influenced the 13th century (Yuan dynasty) Buddhist sculptural style in China, after the Mongols introduced Nepalese Esoteric Buddhism into the Imperial court (see the similar example from the Freer Gallery below).
‘The freer Gallery of Art I China’, Kodansha Ltd, Japan, p.84 and p.173
‘Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum Volume 2- Art from the Himalayas & China’, printed in association with the Norton Simon Art Foundation by C.S Graphics 2003, figure 51, p.82-83