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Marcel Nies

Lopburi, circa 1200 AD
Bronze, cast in two pieces in the lost wax method
height 32 cm.

This fine crowned Buddha image is typical of the Khmer-Lopburi period and can be compared with a number of other contemporaneous bronze pieces. Represented here is the historical Buddha, Gautama Sakyamuni. He is the Buddha of compassion who, having achieved the highest evolutionary perfection, turns suffering into happiness for all mankind. The gesture of his right hand alludes to his subjugation of the demon Mara, who had striven to disrupt Sakyamuni’s meditation and was the last obstacle to his attainment of enlightenment.

With his right hand Buddha makes the ‘earth-touching’ bhumisparsamudra while his left hand rests in his lap in the gesture of contemplation. He is portrayed with elongated earlobes and an ushnisa, the symbol denoting wisdom, rises above his crown. He wears a sanghati robe that leaves his right shoulder and arm uncovered and a shawl is draped over his left shoulder, extending to the navel. The Buddha’s importance is emphasized by the presence of a crown, ear ornaments, bracelets and a fine detailed necklace. Buddha is seated in virasana (legs on top of another) on a double lotus throne.

From the Dvaravati period, Lopburi was an active Buddhist centre in south-central Thailand, and came under the rule of Angkor in the 11th century. The Lopburi style followed the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and displays many stylistic similarities with Cambodian bronzes, in particular bronzes of the Angkor Wat and Bayon style. The physiognomy of these Lopburi images is typified by a human and friendly expression, revealing Thai influence. Moreover, these bronzes are often executed with finely detailed jewellery, as can be seen in the present bronze. The Buddha’s hair is depicted in vertical braids, and thick lips, a smiling face, and prominent earlobes are featured.

This important crowned Buddha image is one of the finest and most expressive examples of the Khmer style produced in Lopburi. This rare work of art, with a most unusual throne, is exemplified by the quality and attention to detail in its casting. The harmonious construction and excellent balance, make every part radiate with Buddha’s inner life. With striking upright tension, finely modelled features and volumes, and a powerful position of the hand touching the earth, this Buddhist bronze can be considered as a masterpiece of Khmer-Lopburi art.

Published: Thitipong Udomiatasasin, Amulet of the Universal Buddha, 1996, frontcover.
A book made for collectors of Buddhist amulets and antique religious art. The present Buddha won a contest circa 30 years ago when it was rated as a rare object of the highest quality and of exceptional beauty.

Art Loss Register Certificate, Reference S00017520.

J. Boisselier, La Sculpture en Thailande, 1974, p. 41 and p. 118.
P. Krairiksh, Art Styles in Thailand. A Selection from National Provincial Museums, and An Essay in Conceptualization, 1977, fig. 48.
S. Van Beek & L. Invernizzi Tettoni, The Arts of Thailand, 1985, p. 95.

all text, images Marcel Nies


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