The Buddha and the Sacred Site

Buddha Shakyamuni

  • 1
  • India, Bihar
  • Pala period, late 9th–early 10th century
  • Schist
  • H. 28 1/4 in. (71.8 cm)
  • Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.37
  • Bodh Gaya
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This image of the Buddha, shown performing the earth-touching gesture (bhumisparsha mudra), evokes Bodh Gaya, the place of the Buddha's enlightenment. The carving in the lower register shows the earth as a female with a water vessel, who witnesses the enlightenment. To the right is a kneeling male figure holding a flower garland, enacting a pilgrimage custom. The Bodhi Tree, under which the Buddha attained enlightenment, is indicated by leafy branches that curl above the figure of the Buddha. The abraded surface of this relief suggests that it received repeated touching and libations in the course of rituals.

PHOTO CREDIT: Asia Society, New York

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