Stone relief of the Crowned Buddha

From eastern India, 11th-12th century AD

The Buddha as a universal sovereign

This stone relief was discovered at Bodh Gaya, the location of the Buddha's enlightenment. The Buddha stands at the centre. His right hand is in the gesture of charity (varadamudra), while his left holds the edge of the robes that cover his whole body. Smaller bodhisattvas stand on either side of the Buddha. Around him figures represent events from the Buddha's life. At the top right is the First Sermon, with the seated Buddha making the teaching gesture (dharmachakramudra). Two small deer beneath him indicate the location in the deer park at Sarnath. At the top the Buddha lies down at the moment of his death and final release (parinirvana). Beside the Buddha's left shoulder is the temptation by Mara and his defeat by the Buddha seated beneath a tree and a parasol .

The Buddha is here crowned and ornamented with earrings and a necklace. Crowned Buddhas were popular in eastern India from the tenth century. They are a reminder of his early life as a prince, but more importantly emphasize the Buddha's role as a universal sovereign. Crowned Buddhas also appear in the art of regions influenced by eastern India, such as Burma.

At the base of this relief is a small image of a prostrate donor figure. A damaged inscription names a donor 'desirous of release from the ocean of existence'.

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More information


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


Height: 195.000 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1872.7-1.30


Bridge Collection


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