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Marcel Nies

9. Buddha Sakyamuni
Myanmar, Pagan kingdom
12th-13th century
Bronze, cast in the lost wax method, traces of gilding
Height: 32cm
Buddha Sakyamuni

The present image of the historical Buddha Sakyamuni is of a typical Pagan style as revealed by an elongated hand touching the earth, a short ushnisa topped by a square cut bud, a sanghati with an extended shawl over the left shoulder, by the shape of the lotusleaves and the curve of the lower tumb. This style reveals the influence from the Indian Pala style as in addition present in the vajrasana posture with folded extremities, the curved extremity emerging from the left hand, and the pearled edge of the throne.

Pagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay region of Myanmar. From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, constructing over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries, with the remains of over 2,200 still surviving to the present day.

This Pagan Buddha is closely related both stylistically as in physiognomy with a number of earth-touching Buddhas depicted on the 1,500 famous shrines of the Ananda temple, telling the story of Buddha. The Ananda Temple is one of Myanmar’s most revered sites, and was built by King Kyansittha around 1090 CE. It was one of the first great Pagan temples revealing influences from the Indian Pala style in architecture and sculpture, and considered a masterpiece of architecture, celebrated especially for its balanced proportions. The tower stands 40 meters high, with the base spreading out in several cascading terraces. Each of the four symmetrical entrances leads to its own monumental Buddha statue in the heart of the building. The temple remained an active worship site for nearly 1000 years.

This bronze Buddha is a masterpiece of art and among the rare examples which survived from the Pagan cultural heritage. Similar to classic Pala style works the bronze incorporates wonderful proportions with a great balance, and is noteworthy for the powerful gestures of the hands. Serene in expression, it is nonetheless striking in its lively presence and sense of vital energy, revealing the serene power of the Buddha.

Collection Mr. And Mrs. J. C. Moreau Gobard, Paris, 1990s. Collection Mrs. Livien Eversen, The Netherlands, 2003–2017.

The European Fine Art Fair, Maastricht, March 2003.

Gordon H. Luce, ‘Old Burma - Early Pagan, 1970, plates 290, 293, 294, 296, 297, 299, 304, 305, and 315.
Vinay Kumar Rao, Buddhist Art of Pagan, 1971, Volume II, plates, 16, 18, 19, 22, 118, and 119. Nina Oshegowa und Sergej Oshegow, Kunst in Burma, 1988, nos 14 and 52.
Paul Strachan, Pagan, Art & Architecture of Old Burma, 1989, no 13.

all text, images © Marcel Nies
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