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Marcel Nies

21. Buddha Sakyamuni
Thailand, U-Thong
circa 1400 A.D.
Bronze, cast in the lost wax method, fine dark patina with traces of lacquer and gilding
height 64 cm.

Buddha Sakyamuni

The historical Buddha Gautama Sakyamuni is the Buddha of compassion who, having achieved the highest evolutionary perfection, turns suffering into happiness for all living beings. This particular image is one of his most significant and popular depictions; it represents the moment he attained the state of enlightenment. With his right hand, Buddha touches mother earth, indicating the subjugation of Mara, the evil god of desire who had tempted the Buddha, and who was his last obstacle in his attainment of perfection.

Seated in virasana (his right leg resting on his left), Buddha makes with his right hand the gesture of bhumisparsa mudra; his left hand is resting in his lap, the gesture of contemplation. The ushnisa, the symbol which denotes wisdom, is depicted on top of his curly hair. Buddha is dressed in a monk's robe with his right shoulder and arm bare. The elongated earlobes reflect his royal origins.

Between the end of the Khmer occupation and the founding of Ayudhia in 1350 A.D. by the prince of U-Thong, there is a group of images found in the Central Thai sites of, particularly Suphanburi and Sankhaburi, which have a specific style. The style, named after the prince of neighbouring U-Thong, incorporates in contrast to the Sukhothai images a certain amount of Khmer facial features. These images exhibit in addition Sukhothai stylistic influence- with oval face, elongated body, and flame on top of his ushnisa. The U-Thong style evolved until the early part of the Ayudhia kingdom period. Typical characteristics of this U-Thong style Buddha are the very small haircurls, the shape of the flame, the band between his forehead and haircurls, the pronounced ears and hands, the typical waisted throne, and the broad shawl of his sanghati. In contrast to Ayudhia images the eyes of the Buddha are not inlaid but cast.

With absolute calm and nobility, this historical Buddha possesses a strong character of authority. The imposing volumes of his body shapes contrast and blend with the fine delicate lines of his face and cloth. The spiritual Buddha reveals his mystical and meditative expression at the highest level.

Formerly in the collection of Van Der Toorn Vriithoff, Netherlands.

all text, images © Marcel Nies

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