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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    A figure of the Buddha, in grey schist, seated on a lion throne in bhumisparsa mudra (earth-touching posture) and surrounded by the Eight Great Events from his life. Clockwise from the bottom left: 1. the Birth of the Siddhartha (Queen Maya under a Sal tree), 2. the Miracle at Sravasti (one confounded heretic below the throne represents the original six), 3. the Buddha descends from the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods under an umbrella and flanked by Indra and Brahma, 4. The Death of the Buddha (mahaparinirvana), 5. the Buddha tames the elephant Nalagiri at Rajgir, 6. the First Sermon of the Buddha on a throne above a dharmacakra flanked by a pair of deer, 7. a seated Buddha receives a bowl of honey from a monkey, 8. the large central seated figure represents the Enlightenment of the Buddha.


  • School/style

  • Date

    • 9thC
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 51.5 centimetres
    • Width: 34.5 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        around the head of the Buddha
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Transliteration

        "Ye dharma..."
      • Inscription Comment

        The Buddhist Creed
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        carved on a horizontal panel on the reverse of the piece
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Comment

        A three-line dedicatory inscription
  • Exhibition history


    Until 2011, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Sculpture from South Asia, LT Loan

  • Condition

    Broken in half at neck level and repaired.

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    29 December 1999

    Reason for treatment

    Temporary Exhibition

    Treatment proposal

    Clean,retouch where necessary., D


    The carving is in good condition, but dusty. A break traverses the relief, running across the Buddha's neck and shoulders.

    Treatment details

    The carving was vacuumed and then wiped with water dampened swabs. The break filling was retouched with Cryla acrylic paints.

    About these records 

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated events

    • Associated Event: Life of the Buddha
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Purchased by John Bridge at the Stuart sale at Christie's in June, 1830. The collection was given to the British Museum in 1872 by Mrs John Bridge and his nieces, Miss Fanny Bridge and Mrs Edgar Baker, on the death that year of George Bridge, brother of John Bridge.

  • Department


  • Registration number


Seated Buddha with Great Life Events

Seated Buddha with Great Life Events

Image description



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Object reference number: RRI806

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