The Buddha and the Sacred Site

Portion of a Disassembled Stupa

  • 11
  • India, Bihar, Bodh Gaya region
  • 9th century
  • Basalt
  • H. 20 5/16 x W. 12 3/8 x D. 7 in. (51.6 x 31.4 x 17.8 cm)
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with the George W. B. Taylor Fund, 1921, 1921-36-1

This fragment served as an elaborate frame for a carved sculpture (now absent). At the top, three small niches hold three Buddhas. The central Buddha is seated in the gesture of meditation (dhyana mudra); the standing Buddha on the right lowers his right hand in the gift-bestowing gesture (varada mudra); and the other raises his right hand in the gesture of protection (abhaya mudra). The roughly chiseled principal niche once contained a narrow relief sculpture secured to the back slab. The trefoil arch rising from columns and surmounted by hamsas (heavenly geese) would have complemented a sculpture of the Buddha in the earth-touching gesture, signifying his enlightenment at Bodh Gaya.

PHOTO CREDIT: Graydon Wood, courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art

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