G654 BRONZE SEATED MONK
THAI, AYUTTHAYA PERIOD
H. 31.2 CMS, 12 ½ INS
An enchanting bronze figure of the venerable monk Phra Malai, seated in bhumisparsimudra with his left hand holding the remains of his monastic fan, his face with an intense spiritual gaze, wearing a thin sanghati (monastic robe) with a narrow sash over the left shoulder, with extensive traces of gilding
Phra Malai was a Buddhist monk who acquired special powers through meditation, enabling him to visit heaven and hell. He subsequently returned to earth and began to preach that our actions in life would lead to either future suffering or to happiness.
The kingdom of Ayutthaya, established by King U Thong in 1350 in the Chao Phraya River basin to the north of Bangkok was, until the Burmese attacked and burned its capital in 1767, one of the richest and most enduring kingdoms of Southeast Asia, attracting innumerable merchants and other visitors, not only from neighbouring Asian countries but also from Europe as well.
The Asian Art Museum, San Francisco has a late Ayutthaya period illustrated manuscript with scenes from the Phra Malai story – see cat. no. 80, p. 105 in F. McGill et al, The Kingdom of Siam: The Art of Central Thailand, San Francisco: Asian Art Museum, 2005.
Provenance: Private German collection