- Museum number
Figure of the historical Buddha, Sakyamuni, shown in a meditative posture, seated on a double lotus-petal pedestal, framed by an arched mandorla of foliage, pearls, scrolling lotus, thunderbolts (vajra) and swirling flames; with richly ornamented plinth, incised inscription in front on ledge above pedestal. Made of gilded bronze.
- Production date
18th century (base and mandorla)
Height: 37 centimetres (Buddha)
Height: 60.50 centimetres
Width: 42.90 centimetres
Depth: 28 centimetres
- Curator's comments
See von Schroeder 1981 (p.516) for three further bibliographic references.
This is one of the largest and most ornate Sino-Tibetan bronzes surviving from the early fifteenth century and the basic Indian formula of a seated figure, enthroned on a lotus base, and set off by a resplendent backplate, is still very evident.
The Yongle emperor came to power by usurping the throne, but promoted a stable bureaucracy and strong civilian government. He invited the Tibetan religious leader, Halima, to court to perform religious services for his deceased parents in 1407, exchanging gifts with the Tibetan delegation, and conferring titles in exchange. Further Tibetan diplomatic missions were hosted by the Yongle emperor. Porcelains based on Tibetan vessels as well as Tibetan-style Buddhist images were required for these services.
This richly worked bronze is cast in three pieces: the Buddha, his hand in ‘bhūmisparśa mudrā’, and double lotus throne; the rectangular stepped base, densely ornamented with lotus, leaf and classic scrolls; and the arched mandorla pierced with fire and flower scrolls. It is one of the largest and most lavish Yong'le-period Sino-Tibetan bronzes, and can be closely related to images of the Buddha in 14th- and early 15th-century illustrated ‘sūtras’, such as a Sino-Tibetan illustrated woodblock edition of the ‘Suvarṇaprabhāsasūtra’ (dated to 1419), and the ‘Qi sha Tripiṭaka’.
- Bibliographic references
von Schroeder 1981 / Indo-Tibetan Bronzes (144E)
Zwalf 1985 / Buddhism: Art and Faith (305)
Blurton 1997 / The Enduring Image: Treasures from the British Museum (266)
Wang and Priewe 2013 / Scientific analysis of a Buddha attributed to the Yongle period of the Ming dynasty (p.61-68, p.61, fig.1, p.62, table.1, fig.2-4, p.63, fig.5-7, p.64, fig.8-9, p.65, fig.10)
- On display (G33/dc33b/s1)
- Exhibition history
1997-98, National Museum of India [New Delhi], Museum of Modern Art [Mumbai], 'The Enduring Image'.
2014 Sep-2015 Jan, BM WCEC, 'Ming: 50 years that changed China'
- Acquisition date
- Registration number