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Marcel Nies

13. Buddha Aksobhya
13th century.
Bronze, fine metal alloy, cast in the lost wax method, traces of paint
height 26.5 cm.

Buddha Aksobhya

Aksobhya is one of the five cosmic Buddhas- the spiritual sons who emanated from the Adi Buddha. Regarded as the second Dhyani-Buddha, he is the embodiment of the cosmic element vijana (consciousness) and represents the winter, the faculty of hearing and all elements of ether and sounds. This imperturbable Buddha has a comparable posture and meaning to that of the historical Buddha Gautama Sakyamuni in his guise as the conqueror of the demon Mara (the evil spirit). Aksobhya is 'the lord of the east', transforming the dangerous human affliction of anger, one of the most potent obstructions to enlightenment, into perfection and wisdom.

Aksobhya can be identified by his symbol, the vajra, lying in front of him on the throne. This ritual thunderbolt is the active symbol of discriminative knowledge, cosmic power and an object used to attain enlightenment. Seated in vajrasana in the diamond posture (legs crossed), the interlocking lotus position on a lotusthrone, he holds his right hand in bhumisparsa mudra as he touches mother earth. With this gesture he calls the earth to witness his victory over the god Mara who was his last obstacle to his attainment of perfection. His left hand rests in his lap in dhyani mudra, the gesture of contemplation. Buddha bears an urna (third eye) on his forehead, the ushnisa (the symbol denoting wisdom) crowning his large curls of hair. Buddha is adorned with a three-leaved crown, flowers above his ears, and is dressed in a finely engraved monks robe with his right shoulder and arm bare; his elongated earlobes reflecting his royal origins.

This Buddha is a rare and early example of a central Tibetan work of art. The characteristics which help define this early style are the elongated lines of the eyebrows, the large lotus leaves, the unfinished back, the almond shaped eyes, the large open earlobes, the strings of pearls, the shape of the three leaved crown, the fleshy cheeks, and the pronounced sculptural volumes of his body, in particular his hands.

The superb and inspired concept of this imposing temple image shows simplicity and purity; an amazingly harmonious construction of voluptuous shapes and lines make every part of the body radiate with Buddha's inner life. An intense and concentrated energy streams through his powerful shoulders and arms, emerging in the wonderful touch of his right hand, to end with striking tension in his well modelled fingers and feet. All these elements reveal a great and generous Buddha, an embodiment of serenity, wisdom and compassion.


all text, images © Marcel Nies

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