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This is a very venerable andhandsome imageof the Lord Buddha cast in Bronze and partially gilded in the early 1800's. The gentleman from whom I acquired it said he found it in Nepal in the middle years of the last century and he believed it was much older than whatI have indicted.It is made in what is called the Gandharan style.
The Kingdom of Gandhara existed, in one form or another, for more than 15 centuries. It began as a province of the Persian Empire in 530 BC and ended in 1021 AD, when its last king was assassinated by his own troops. During those centuries it expanded and shrank, and its borders changed many times.
The ancient kingdom of Gandhara stretched across parts of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was a vital commercial center of the Middle East many centuries before the birth of the Prophet Muhammad.
Gandhara was situated at the crossroads between east and west and thus came under a wide variety of artistic influences, including Persian, Greek and Indian. It is reported that some of the followers of Alexander the Great, grew tired of following him "to theends of the world" and settled in the region. Theyintroduced many "western"aspects of their ownHellenistic culture. These can be clearly seen in the art from the area.
The aspects of this figure which identify it asGandharanare the clinging drapery, like a Greek chiton, and the coiffure, which instead of having small "snail" curls, has the hair pulled back into a large ushnisha, or top knot.
Below is an image of a Gandharan Buddhaseated, witha long flowing chiton-like garment and with acoiffure and heavy round ushnisha, like our Buddha:
This figure is carved in stone, asare almost all of the existing large examples of Gandharan sculpture. There are also many small fragments in terracotta.
Iam unfamiliar with any bronze example of Gandharan art. So it may be that the unknown creator of our piece was familiar with the art of Gandhara, but made his image in a medium with with he was more familiar, bronze.
Our Buddha is seated on an unusual raking moon disk. He sits inPadmasana, or the full lotus position, which is usually reserved for images of the Buddha after his enlightenment. He holds both of his hands in very elegant versions of the Vitarka Mudra, the mudra, or gesture of teaching. Sometimes this mudra is also called "Closing the Circle of the Law", as a circle is madewith the thumb and forefinger.Our artist has avoided a lifeless symmetry by having the Buddha hold his hands at slightly different heights and distances from his chest.
But the real glories of this figure are the face of the Buddha and the wonderful patina.
The Buddha's face, hands and feet have all been gilded and much of the gilding has worn away. This gilding may have been added at a later time as an act of petition or Thanksgiving through a particular image, as was the custom. But the un-gilded parts of this figure have the most wonderful and complex dry patina. I included a detail of his back near the end of the photos where this patina can be best seen.
This Buddha has avery handsome and peaceful face with his slightly raised eyebrows, gentle smile and open eyes. He has an urna on his forehead, the round shape which symbolizesa kind of third eye with which he is able to see past this universe of suffering, samsara, into the world of enlightenment. And he has the three rings at his neck which mark him as an individual of great spiritual wisdom.
This statuemeasures 10 1/8inches tall, seven inches wide at his knees and is 4 5/8 inches from back to front. The bottom of the figure is open, although I believe it was once closed.The tempered core of sand and clay, though crumbing, is substantially intact.
The photos give a very good idea of this venerable example of Sacred Buddhist Art in the Gandharan style from the early 1800's, if not earlier.
Should have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me, and thanks for looking.
Due to limitations of photography and the inevitable differences in monitor settings, the color of the pictures on your monitor may be slightly different from the figure itself, but I did my best to capture him as he is. And, at least on my monitor, the color is a perfect match.
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