ST1082 BRONZE FIGURE OF A WALKING BUDDHA


Southeast Asia

ST1082 BRONZE FIGURE OF A WALKING BUDDHA

THAILAND, 19TH CENTURY

H. 29 CMS, 11 ½ INS

An elegant bronze figure of a walking Buddha of slender form, the left hand raised in vitarkamudra (the gesture of teaching), and the right holding an alms bowl, his face tranquil and smiling beneath a raised chignon ascending to a flame finial, wearing an ankle-length sanghati, traces of gilding and black lacquer remaining.

The fully in-the-round walking Buddha originated in Sukhothai, Central Thailand, in the 14th century, probably deriving from 12th century bas-reliefs at Pagan, Burma and in Sri Lanka. It is said to represent the Buddha Sakyamuni in the third week following his Enlightenment, when he walked back and forth planning his future, but another interpretation is that it represents his descent from the Tavatimsa Heaven, to which he had risen in order to preach to his mother.

The great 2.2 metre walking Buddha from Wat Benchamabophit, Bangkok, is the archetype of these images – see pl. 7 in Dorothy H. Fickle, Images of the Buddha in Thailand, Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Provenance: From a Southern German private collection.