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6th Century AD, Gupta-Vakataka Period

Place of Origin: Phophnar, Madhya Pradesh,
Materials: Bronze
Dimensions: Ht: 45.5 L:17.0 W:13.8 cm.
Acc. No. L. 658

One of the finest that a bronze-caster's workshop has ever created this bronze sculpture represents the Enlightened one as moving across the world enlightening the ignorant masses, an image form usually classified as teaching Buddha. This bronze statue is one of the seven bronze images, a part of the famous hoard, discovered in 1964 from the village of Phophnar near Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh. In the statue Buddha has been represented as standing with a gentle sway on the calyx of a lotus flower, the lotus itself now missing, rising out of a multi-tiered variously conceived rectangular pedestal more significant being base-part carved with open floral pattern. Over it rises a tall column holding a rounded seat which carries the divine image.

The fingers of the Buddha's right hand are in interpretive mode known in the iconographic tradition as 'vitark-mudra', which essentially combines 'abhaya' - freedom from fear suggesting, in the Buddhist context particularly, that once a person knew the cause of his fear there was no fear for him hence, the blend of two iconographic forms. Corresponding to the gesture of the right hand the left is held in complete ease. It elegantly holds the hem of his 'ekansika sanghati' - the outer garment laid over his left shoulder and down the left arm. Characteristic of Gupta art the image has been gently modeled and sensitively treated. It consists of an oval face, half closed eyes with silver-plated pupils, elongated ears, tight snails-like curly hair and long flowing drapery. The image bearing a three line inscription on the pedestal translated by Venkataramayya says, 'This is the meritorious gift of Bhadanta Buddhadasa the Sakya bhiksukacarya. Let the merit of (this) gift go to all sentient beings' is an example of the Buddhist convention of gifting the Master's images to monasteries and shrines, who could afford, for others' enlightenment.

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