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Bronze statue of the Buddha

 

Height: 38.000 cm

Gift of the Secretary of State for India in Council

Asia OA 1905.12-18.1

Room 33: Asia

    Bronze statue of the Buddha

    From the south-eastern Deccan, India
    8th century AD

    Buddhism in southern India and its influence on South-east Asia

    This fine standing image of the Buddha comes from the south-eastern part of the Deccan, the coastal area of the modern state of Andhra Pradesh. This area was a flourishing region in the early years of Buddhism with important stupa sites and monasteries at Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda.

    The right hand of this bronze image is shown in the gesture of charity (varadamudra). The Buddha's robes are barely visible over his body and his right shoulder is bare. The origins of this style of Buddhist sculpture in southern India can be seen in the earlier sculpture of the Satavahana kings, with their capital at Amaravati (first-third centuries AD) and the Ikshvakus based at Nagarjunakonda (third - fourth centuries AD).

    Buddhism began to decline in India after the fifth century and the collapse of the Gupta Empire. It survived in eastern India until the twelfth century under the Pala kings. This image, however, is evidence for the continued practice of Buddhism in southern Indian into the eighth century, when Hinduism was rising in power and popularity. The south-eastern Deccan was an important region for the transmission of Indian culture, including script, coinage, law and above all, Buddhism, to South-east Asia. The style of this sculpture is very similar to the earliest Buddhist sculptures from Thailand and other parts of South-east Asia.

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

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