G684 BRONZE SEATED BUDDHA


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G684 BRONZE SEATED BUDDHA

BURMA

PAGAN PERIOD

12TH CENTURY

H. (OVERALL) 38 CMS, 15 INS

W. 26 CMS, 10 INS

H. (BUDDHA ONLY) 26 CMS, 10 INS

NOTE: BASE PLATE AND PEDESTAL ARE OF LATER DATE.

A large, rare and important bronze figure of Buddha Sakyamuni with a luxuriant deep olive green patina, seated on a trapezoidal lotus pedestal of later date and adorned with ganas, his face smiling and serene, the eyes and urna inlaid with silver, his sanghati (monastic robes) covering one shoulder and with a characteristic fan-shaped pleat between his legs, his right hand lowered in bhumisparsimudra  (the gesture of summoning the earth to witness) and the left resting in his lap, the reverse with an attachment loop for a halo.

A Tibetan-Burman race known as the Mranma established their capital at Pagan, on the left bank of the Irrawaddy in Burma’s dry zone. The founder of the Pagan dynasty, Anawrahta (r. 1044 – 1077), launched a series of military campaigns against Arakan in the west, the Shan in the east and the Mon kingdom to the south, thereby uniting Burma for the first time in its history. Anawrahta and his successors embraced the Theravada Buddhism of Sri Lanka and built approximately two thousand temples, stupas, monasteries, libraries and ordination halls – the largest concentration of monuments in the entire Buddhist world. The city fell to the Mongols in 1287 and political power became dispersed among the Mon, Shan, Burmese and Arakanese.

Sylvia Fraser-Lu has written a concise summary of the features of Pagan seated bronze Buddhas:

‘The Pagan seated Buddha became the ideal for subsequent casters of bronze statues to emulate. Beginning with the images sanctioned by King Anawrahta (r. 1044-1077), Pagan’s greatest monarch, the dominant schema for Burmese images is the Lord Buddha seated cross-legged on a lotus throne in the padmasana (lotus) position with soles turned upwards against the thighs, the left hand resting in the lap and the right hand, in bhumisparsa, extending over the knee to touch the ground in front of the shin. In the Burmese mind the earth touching pose represents the supreme moment of the Enlightenment, when Lord Buddha over-came the forces of evil and began his illustrious mission to mankind on earth. Professor Luce, the leading scholar of the Pagan period, has suggested that the nerve centre of a Burmese image in the bhumisparsa position lies in the pendant right arm. This position is so prevalent in Burma that it has become an art form in its own right.’

[See Sylvia Fraser-Lu, Buddha Images from Burma, Part II: Bronze and Related Metals, Arts of Asia, March 1981].

For two related bronze Pagan Buddhas, one enthroned, see Sylvia Fraser-Lu (ibid.). The Metropolitan Museum has a seated example with similar silver inlay – please see the following link:

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/65015

Provenance: Private UK collection.

Previously in the Tibet and Asian Collection of the Swabian Kienzle brothers, Southwestern Germany, assembled between 1965 and 1986.