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The First Sermon of the Buddha
Greyish black Chlorite
Orissa
9th/10th cent. AD

The Buddha is seated beneath the Bodhi tree on a lotus throne in the gesture of the turning of the wheel (dharmacakrapravartanamudrā) giving his first sermon in the Gazelle Grove of Sarnāth near Varanasi. The rear slab is perforated in the form of a chaitya window. He is wearing the typical monk’s robe, an undergarment (antaravāsaka) and the wrap (uttarasangha). His eyes are half – closed which gives his face a rather serene and contemplative expression. The ūrnā on his forehead is hardly visible. His coiffure consists of spiral curls ending in a round usnīsa.

At the top corners two vidyādharas with mālas in their hands are flying towards the Buddha. To his both sides - one beneath the other -four two - armed Bodhisattvas with high crowns are seated gracefully on lotus pedestals in mahārājalīlā pose decorated richly with earrings, short and long beaded necklaces, girdle as well as arm and foot bracelets. The upper figure to the right of the Buddha with jatāmukuta is the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara with the Dhyāni Buddha Amitābha in his crown. Beneath him Mañjuśrī is depicted identified by the book which he carries on his lotus. The upper figure on the left side of the Buddha seems to represent Vajrapāni with a vajra on his lotus stalk and the one below is Maitreya carrying a bunch of nāgakesara flowers.

On each side of the lotus throne of the Buddha a small donor is kneeling.

The layer beneath the throne is divided into five segments. In the centre sits a Buddha in dhyānamudrā separated from two lions by incense burners. On each side a kneeling donor is again visible.

On the bottom two gazelles are represented in the centre surrounded by several ritual objects. The wheel expected between the deer is not to be seen, but the animals are the indication for the first sermon.

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