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13. Buddha Aksobhya
Tibet, 15th century
Fine metal alloy, cast in the lost wax method
Height 38 cm
Buddha Aksobhya

Aksobhya is one of the five cosmic Dhyani Buddhas. He transforms the dangerous human affliction of anger – one of the greatest obstacles to enlightenment – into perfection and wisdom. The buddha sits in vajrasana and with his right hand he makes the earth-touching bhumisparsha mudra, calling the earth to witness his victory over the god Mara, who endeavoured to prevent his enlightenment. His left hand rests in his lap in dhyani mudra, the gesture of contemplation.

The cosmic Buddha wears a five-leaved crown with a tiny kirtimukha below the central leaf, large circular earrings, a necklace, bracelets and ornaments. His hair is meticulously arranged in a high chignon and an ushnisa, the symbol of his wisdom, protrudes above the crown. He is clad in a finely engraved monastic robe. The bronze is sealed with an original plate with depiction of a vishvavajra, symbolizing the four cardinal points of the universe.

The style of this figure is typical of central Tibet, as attested by the stylized facial expression, the engraved patterns, the almond shaped eyes, the open earlobes, the strings of pearls, the shape of the ushnisa, the fleshy cheeks, the shape of the folded ornaments, and the well-modelled hands and feet. Moreover, the fine metal alloy is typical of temple sculptures cast in the fifteenth century.

The Buddha is an embodiment of serenity, wisdom and compassion, as revealed by his facial expression. The inspired concept has a harmonious construction of volumes and lines, making every part of the body radiate with Buddha’s inner life, emerging in the wonderful touch of his right hand, to end with striking tension.

Private collection, Firenze, Italy.

U. Von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, figs. 132F, 133D, 133F.

all text, images © Marcel Nies
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