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 Museum Explorer

Gods and spirits in Asia

Head of the fasting Buddha

Height: 22.300 cm
Width: 12.700 cm
Depth: 18.500 cm

Asia OA 1907.12-28.1

Head of the Fasting Buddha

From: Pakistan
Date: 2nd- 3rd century AD

Prince Siddhartha lead a life of luxury inside his palace, until at the age of 19 he went out for the first time and was horrified by the suffering and death that he saw. He gave away all his money and travelled around trying to find a way to solve life’s problems. At one point he stopped eating and almost died, and this sculpture shows him at this time, looking like a skeleton. 

He realised that this wasn’t the answer and began instead a life of moderate eating, caring for others and deep thinking. This lead him to achieve perfect happiness – the state which Buddhists call ‘nirvana’. He began to be called Buddha, and as people flocked to listen to his teachings, the Buddhist religion began.