The 'Walking Buddha' is a striking Thai iconic invention emerging in bronze sculpture in the 14th century. Known at Sukhothai as cankrama ("walking back and forth") it refers to the pacing of Buddha during the third week after Enlightenment, cf. H. Woodward, The Sacred Sculpture of Thailand, 1997, p. 160ff. The variety of implications include, being a visual representation of his descent from Tavatimsa Heaven, as well as increasing the accessibility of the Buddha to the devotee by appearing to move towards him, with his right hand raised in the fear-abiding gesture. When Shakyamuni renounced his princely life he dismounted from his horse, Kanthaka, for good to become a peripatetic mendicant. Buddhist texts describe his constant wandering from city to city in the course of his teaching exemplifying the important role that the act of walking had upon the Buddha's life. It is all the more remarkable that there are no Indian prototypes of 'Walking Buddhas'. In the context of walking, the footprint also has an important connotation, first emerging in Gandharan schist sculpture as an ersatz symbol. A Sukhothai bronze image in the National Museum Bangkok shows a 'Walking Buddha' leaving a footprint behind, literally leaving his mark as a symbol of spiritual conquest.
Large models of this size and condition are extremely rare; another example is in the Minneapolis Institute of Art, see R. Jacobsen, The Asian Galleries, The Minneapolis Institute of Art, 1982, p. 21, ill. upper right; and a much smaller example dated to the 14th century in the British Museum, cf. W. Zwalf (ed.), Buddhism, Art and Faith, 1985, cat. no. 251.
The dating is consistent with the result of a thermoluminescence test of the core, Oxford, sample no. 281k15.