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A RARE BRONZE FIGURE OF BUDDHA
A RARE BRONZE FIGURE OF BUDDHA
A RARE BRONZE FIGURE OF BUDDHA
A RARE BRONZE FIGURE OF BUDDHA
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A RARE BRONZE FIGURE OF BUDDHA

THAILAND, MON DVARAVATI STYLE, 9TH CENTURY

Details
A RARE BRONZE FIGURE OF BUDDHA
THAILAND, MON DVARAVATI STYLE, 9TH CENTURY
Standing with both hands raised in a form of vitarkamudra, dressed in a long and diaphanous sanghati revealing the lithe form of the body underneath, the face with full lips and downcast eyes below an arched brow, the hair in tight curls over the ushnisha
10 ¾ in. (27.3 cm.) high
Provenance
Collection of William H. Wolff, New York, by repute.
Hugo Munsterberg, New Paltz, New York, 5 March 1977.
The James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection, Chicago.
Literature
P. Pal, A Collecting Odyssey: Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian Art from the James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection, Chicago, 1997, pp. 102 and 299, cat. no. 124.
Exhibited
The Art Institute of Chicago, “A Collecting Odyssey: Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian Art from the James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection,” 2 August-26 October 1997, cat. no. 124.

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Lot Essay

The Mon polity of Dvaravati was one of the earliest and most important societies in mainland Southeast Asia. Based around the Chao Phraya and Mae Klang river basins of central Thailand, the Dvaravati polity was known from early Chinese textual sources, as well as being mentioned in a single local inscription that dates to roughly AD 550-650. Due to the large numbers of Buddhist sculptures associated with the culture, it is highly likely the rulers were patrons of the Buddhist faith. The images of Buddha were heavily influenced by contemporaneous Indian sculptural styles, including the Gupta style based around the site of Sarnath. The facial features of the Mon Dvaravati Buddhist images, however, display arched, joined eyebrows which are unlike those found in India, and which are characteristic to the Mon Dvaravati style. The figure is symmetrically arranged, with the monastic robes closely clinging to the body, thereby displaying sensitive modeling of the torso and focusing on the purity and fluidity of form. Such diaphanous drapery is a hallmark of the contemporaneous Sarnath style of Buddhism.
The standing figure of the Buddha with both hands raised in the gesture of vitarkamudra - the gesture of elucidation or argumentation - is another iconographic feature developed by the Mon Dvaravati culture, and which is mostly confined to mainland Southeast Asia. The thumb and forefinger, joined at the tips, form circles representing both perfection and eternity. John Guy, in Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, New Haven, 2014, p. 210, posits that this gesture may have been intended to evoke sutra descriptions of the Buddha’s descent from the Trayastrimsa Heaven, where he had preached to his late mother.

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