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Bronze figure of the Buddha Amitabha

 

Height: 23.700 cm

Gift of P.T. Brooke Sewell

Asia OA 1957.7-18.1

Room 67: Korea

    Bronze figure of the Buddha Amitabha

    From Silla, Korea
    Unified Silla dynasty, 7th-8th century AD

    The Buddha of the Western Paradise

    Buddhism was introduced to Korea through China, during the Three Kingdoms period (about AD 300-668). Of the three kingdoms, Silla is the most distant from China, and was the last to accept Buddhism as the state religion. However, once it did, Silla became the driving force behind the unification of the whole peninsula. This statue was made during the Unified Silla Dynasty (AD 668-935), when Buddhism flourished, supported by the court and the aristocracy.

    In Buddhist teaching, the Buddha Amitabha rules the Western Paradise, a heavenly land into which all who call upon his name will be reborn. He was a popular figure at this time. The Buddha stands on a lotus pedestal, the lotus being a Buddhist symbol of purity. The robe clings to the body in continuous close parallel folds, typical of Buddhist sculpture of this period, and similar to those on Gupta art from India, the origin of Buddhism. The figure would originally have had a mandorla. The right hand is raised in the gesture of reassurance (abhayamudra).

    W. Zwalf (ed.), Buddhism: art and faith (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)

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    On display: Room 67: Korea

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    Korean art and archaeology, £9.99

    Korean art and archaeology, £9.99