Not many bronze Buddha figures can be traced back with -stylistic- certainty to the Dali kingdom which ruled over the Yunnan province of present China from 937 to 1253, before conquered by the Monghols. Buddhism was very popular in Yunnan as can be detected by the many surviving bronze figures of Avalokitesvara which still adorn many private and public collections around the world and which are often described as "The Luck of Yunnan". Remarkably, just a very small group of bronze Buddhas have survived to our days. A few were discovered in 1978 in the Three Pagoda temple in Dali and published by A. Lutz (ed.) in Der Goldschatz der Drei Pagoden, Museum Rietberg, Zurich 1991, nos. 39-41 and 43. Except for these bronze examples hardly any other outside Yunnan can definitely be assigned to this area.
Interestingly the bronze figures representing Avalokitesvara show Indian (Pallava style) and Southeast Asian influences. The known Buddha examples on the other hand, display various style characteristics, but are yet all based, including the present one, on a Chinese Buddhist sculptural tradition and not following nearby Southeast Asia, Tibet or even India. The proportions of the Buddha's bodies, their facial expressions, including the almost-closed eyes, the straight hairline at the forehead and also the garments covering both shoulders, the treatment of these pleated robes, are all part of a contemporary Chinese Buddhist iconologic and iconographic tradition. One can compare these with a slightly earlier Buddha example, presently in the San Francisco Museum of Asian Art, demonstrating these similarities clearly (see R.Y. Lefebvre-d'Argencé, Chinese, Korean and Japanese Sculpture, Kodansha Ltd., Tokyo 1974, no. 127. Another contemporary Chinese bronze figure of a Buddha is published by Sh. E. Lee and W.K. Ho in Chinese Art under the Mongols: The Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), Cleveland 1968, pl. 13. This latter example shows a Chinese "casting style" if compared with examples from the Yunnan area which are less fluid executed, but nevertheless the iconology remains comparable to the bronze Yunnan Buddha's, including the one under discussion.