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CROWNED BUDDHA SHAKYAMUNI
Phyllite
Pala period. North-Eastern India
10th-11th century
Height 53x35 cms


The principal image of the stele depicts a crowned Buddha seated in the diamond attitude (vajraparyankasana) on a double lotus pedestal. He displays the gesture of meditation (dhyana-mudra) and holds an alms bowl. The upper monastic garment is rendered without folds in a transparent manner and covers both shoulders. The Buddha has bejewelled ornaments, namely a five pointed crown fastened with a ribbon with swirling ends, and a beaded necklace with attached pendants.
This image represents the historical Buddha Shakyamuni, and not one of the five Tathagatas, the trascendetal Buddhas as the crown might suggest, although the five leaves of the crown can symbolize the qualities of the five cosmic Buddhas. The crown also emphasizes the aspect of a world sovereign (chakravartin). The small Budha on the top of the stele represents Buddha Shakyamuni in the nirmanakaya aspect, he is also seated in the diamond attitude, displays the gesture of meditation and holds an alms bowl. The upper monastic garment is rendered without folds in a transparent manner. The only difference between the two Buddhas arte the crown and the jewel.
The image is placed on a niche, surrounded by an archiectural structure: two columns supporting a torana. On the top of both columns there are two birds, probably goose, wich tales become a floral garment ending in the kirtimukha. On the base of the sculpture there is a carving that makes this piece a very peculiar one, that of a man with the head inside a big pot. The image could probably referrer to the story of a devotee who offered a jar of honey to the Buddha. After the Buddha was accepting it, he showed such a big joy that fell down inside the container.

PROVENANCE
Swiss collection 1985