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Seated Buddha Torso

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, Southwest, 2nd floor
The pair of deer on the base of this sculpture indicates that it represents the Buddha’s first sermon, at the park at Sarnath, which was known for its deer. His raised hand, now missing, was likely making a gesture of teaching; his lower hand remains in the posture of meditation. The green stone is typical of sculptures made for early Buddhist centers in southern India. This image shows the Buddha’s back and sides, which was unusual in this period, but the sculpture was clearly made from a shallow block that was more appropriate to a one-sided, relief carving.
MEDIUM Green limestone
  • Place Made: Andhra Pradesh, India
  • DATES late 3rd century
    PERIOD Ikshvaku Period
    DIMENSIONS 16 1/2 × 15 × 4 1/8 in., 59 lb. (41.9 × 38.1 × 10.5 cm, 26.76kg)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, Southwest, 2nd floor
    ACCESSION NUMBER 86.227.24
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Seated Buddha Torso, late 3rd century. Green limestone, 16 1/2 × 15 × 4 1/8 in., 59 lb. (41.9 × 38.1 × 10.5 cm, 26.76kg). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc., 86.227.24. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 86.227.24_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 86.227.24_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Image of the Buddha Shakyamuni seated in meditation. The figure's head and lower right arm are void. The image is carved in the round, but its overall form is flattened, suggesting that it was carved from a shallow slab of stone. The Buddha wears a monastic robe draped over one shoulder and there is a wheel incised on his foot (representing the dharmachakra, the Buddhist emblem for righteousness). Beneath the Buddha figure is a throne platform with images of lions at either end and a pair of deer at the center. The deer suggest that the image represents the Buddha giving his first sermon, at the site of a deer park in Sarnath, India. If this is the case, then the right hand may have originally been raised in a gesture of teaching, or (more common for a raised right hand) the gesture of reassurance. The green limestone and smooth, rounded forms of the sculpture recall carvings found at the southern Indian site of Nagarjunakonda, which was an active Buddhist center under the patronage of the female members of the Ikshvaku royal family.
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