This magnificent sculpture elegantly depicts the moment in which Buddha Shakyamuni achieves enlightenment. Seated in meditation under the Bodhi tree, Buddha maintains his deep introspective state despite Mara’s attempts to frighten and distract him. Having overcome all of Mara’s threats, Buddha presses a single finger to the Earth to witness his enlightenment.
The Nepalese artists of the fourteenth century were revered for creating sculpture with “a subtle balance between ornamentation and form.” The present work embodies the “finesse in the handling of detail with remarkable mastery of sculptural form demonstrating the extraordinary virtuosity of Nepalese artists” (J. Casey, Divine Presence: Art of the Himalayas, Barcelona, 2003, p.44). Seated in dhyanasana on a double-lotus base, the present figure appears filled with prana, the breath of life, his rounded voluminous body emphasizing his spiritual fullness. The square face with elongated almond-shaped eyes centered with a turquoise-inlaid urna, hooked nose and small bow-shaped lips are reminiscent of Pala period prototypes. The finely detailed crown and delicately beaded hem of the robe are hallmarks of the Malla period. The thick, lustrous gilding reveals areas of the rich copper surface beneath, a characteristic revered by connoisseurs of Nepalese bronze sculpture.
This figure may be compared for its balanced proportions, rounded modeling, fine details and radiant patina with a fourteenth-century Nepalese Crowned Buddha sold at Christie's New York on 19 March 2014.