Buddha Calling the Earth to Witness

Buddha Calling the Earth to Witness

1000-1100s

Stone

Overall: 8.2 x 6.1 cm (3 1/4 x 2 3/8 in.)

Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1965.27

Location

Description

The central image depicts the moment when the historical Buddha Shakyamuni reached enlightenment. He is seated under the Bodhi tree and gestures to the earth to witness his defeat of the demons and seductresses who seem to dissipate in the arched carving above him, not touching his enthroned figure.

Immediately surrounding the central icon are diminutive images of the Buddha during the seven days after enlightenment. Around the periphery of the plaque are depictions of seven other key events from his life story: birth, first sermon, and subjugation of the mad elephant on the viewer’s left side; reception of the monkey’s gift of honey, miracle at Shravasti, descent from the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods on the right; and, at the apex, his death, or parinirvana.

A prayer inscribed in the Newari language on the back indicates that this object was made for a pilgrim from Nepal to a sacred site in India. Similar plaques have been found with inscriptions in a variety of languages, which suggests that Buddhists traveled from many countries to northeastern India and brought these souvenir tokens back with them.

See also
Collection: 
Indian Art
Type of artwork: 
Sculpture
Medium: 
Stone

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