ST1135 BRONZE RECLINING BUDDHA
L. 37 CMS, 14 ½ INS.
H. 16 CMS, 6 ¼ INS.
D. 10 CMS, 4 INS
An exceptionally rare bronze figure of the Buddha, reclining in parinirvana on an ornate four-legged couch decorated with scrolling motifs and lotus flowers, the face smiling and serene beneath a tall flame finial, his head and right hand supported by a small cushion, with his left arm in a relaxed posture along his side, the surface with traces of gilding and old patination.
This sculpture is so exquisitely modelled that it appears to float above its couch. The subject matter is the passage of the Buddha into Nirvana. He lies down on a royal couch in the sala grove of the Malla kings beside the Hirannavati River. Surrounded by his faithful monks he utters his final words: “Everything is subject to change; strive on without delay”, and at dawn on the following day passed into the great Nirvana.
The town of Kandy, situated in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka, was an important capital for the Sinhalese kings and was also a centre for Buddhism. Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth houses one of the Buddha’s most revered relics.
For two closely related bronze parinirvana Buddhas in the National Museum, Colombo, see plates 166A and 167E in Ulrich Von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures of Sri Lanka, Visual Dharma Publications Ltd., Hong Kong, 1990. The second is also published as Plate XV, fig. 40 in A.K. Coomaraswamy, Bronzes from Ceylon, Chiefly in the Colombo Museum, Colombo Museum, 1914 (reprinted 1978).
Provenance: Private German collection.