Scenes from the Life of Buddha

Scenes from the Life of Buddha

100s

Schist

Overall: 68 x 41.3 cm (26 3/4 x 16 1/4 in.)

Gift of George P. Bickford 1958.474

Description

In this compact narrative relief, which was made to adorn a Buddhist stupa, scenes from the early life of the Buddha are depicted in order from top to bottom. His birth is at the top. The infant, now broken, is being received by Indra, King of the Gods, from the right side of his mother, who is depicted like a tree deity, grasping a branch with one hand. The baby Buddha miraculously took seven steps immediately after he was born, as indicated by the standing diminutive figure at the left of the scene.

The next scene depicts the bodhisattva Maitreya, who will be the next Buddha to be born in the future, as an element of foreshadowing. Returning to the life of the historical Buddha, the sculptors then depict him as a prince, enjoying palace life with his wife. Eventually, he is compelled to leave his family to seek enlightenment and try to end the suffering in the world. In the lowest panel he rides off to the forest with a carved halo behind his head. In the border areas are meditating Buddha images, worshippers, guardians, and earth deities who drag a massive flower garland adorning the panel.

Video

Cultural Exchange
What's the Story?
Future Buddha
See also
Type of artwork: 
Sculpture
Medium: 
Schist

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