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Seated Buddha

Seated Buddha, 200–300. Pakistan; perhaps Jamalgarhi, Peshawar valley, ancient region of Gandhara. Schist. Courtesy of the Asian Art Museum, The Avery Brundage Collection, B60S393.

Who is depicted here?

This is an image of the preaching Buddha. He is seated in a full lotus position on a dais or throne, portions of which can be seen in the corners of the statue. Two smaller figures below the throne are shown in a position of reverence.

How do we recognize the Buddha?

As a result of his enlightenment, the historical prince Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha (the enlightened one), and thereafter acquired various marks (lakshana) that identify him as the Buddha. These markings became formalized over several centuries as sculptors refined the image of the Buddha and adapted that image to local cultures.
One of these marks is the wisdom bump or protuberance on the head. The Buddha’s hair is gathered in a top knot, in keeping with the fashion of the times and similar to the way ascetics (spiritual people who renounce the comforts of material life) gather their hair in India even today. The depiction of the top knot in sculpture became more formalized over time as a bump, and the hair developed into tiny stylized curls. Another mark is the urna, a tuft of hair between the eyebrows. The Buddha’s earlobes are extended in reference to the heavy jewelry he wore previously as a prince. He wears a simple monk’s robe, in keeping with his spiritual purpose, and sits in a lotus position. If his hands were lying flat in his lap, he would be meditating, but in this sculpture his hands are raised in a teaching position. The Buddha is also identified as an exceptional person by the addition of a halo behind his head, which may have derived from a sun disk, and may also refer to the wheel of the Buddhist law, a symbol for the Buddha’s teachings.

Want to join the conversation?

  • leaf orange style avatar for user Jeff Kelman
    The text states that the Buddha has "...his hands...raised in a teaching position."

    I was not aware of the Buddha having students? I thought the idea was that of a more internal soul searching...I may be all wet on this though and have missed the major point!
    (1 vote)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user .
      Buddha did have "students" (which really were monks and other people), and he taught them how to not to suffer by becoming enlightened after becoming enlightened himself. If you think about it, Buddhism would not be a major religion if Buddha himself would not teach his religion. Hope this helps.
      (2 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Karren Hernandez
    What is the main idea the source ? Summarize it I n 2-3 sentences what is going on?
    (1 vote)
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