The present, highly unique bronze group depicts Buddha Shakyamuni achieving enlightenment beneath the Bodhi Tree as Mara’s armies advance from either side. Concerned about losing power should Shakyamuni obtain supreme knowledge, the celestial king Mara had, prior to this encounter, sent a number of temptations to Shakyamuni, all of which he withstood. As a last effort, Mara calls upon his warriors to capture and defeat Shakyamuni; however, as they approach him in meditation, Buddha touches the ground and calls upon the earth to witness his enlightenment, causing the armies to retreat.
In this depiction, the Buddha sits peacefully within the rocky terrain, as groups of demon warriors advance, some clutching weapons and others banging on their drums. The cascading Bodhi Tree umbrellas the encounter with large boughs of scrolling foliage. A five-pointed aureole crowns the Buddha’s head, which rests in a pensive, downturned position.