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HOME : Asian Art : Art of Myanmar (Burma) : Mandalay Marble Seated Buddha
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Mandalay Marble Seated Buddha - AM.0172
Origin: Burma
Circa: 1800 AD to 1900 AD
Dimensions: 19" (48.3cm) high x 14.7" (37.3cm) wide
Collection: Asian Art
Medium: Marble

Location: Great Britain
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The Mandalay Period represents the last great cultural flourishing of Burmese art. The period was named after the city of Mandalay, which served as capital of Myanmar for a brief period (1860-1885 A.D.) during the reign of King Mindon. After the Anglo-Burmese Wars, northern Myanmar was shut off from the coastal areas that were controlled by the British. King Mindon founded the new capital at a sacred site at the foot of a large hill. The center of the city was designed in the perfect geometrical form of a Buddhist Mandala, giving the city its name. Although this short-lived kingdom finally fell to the British forces in 1886 A.D. during the Third Anglo-Burmese War, the Royal Guilds that created such remarkable works of art for the King remained in the city where they continued to produce sculptures in the Mandalay style.

The historical figure, Buddha Gautama Sakyamuni is the Buddha of compassion who, having achieved the highest evolutionary perfection, turns suffering into happiness for all living beings. Born around 560 B.C. somewhere between the hills of south Nepal and the Rapti river, his father was a Raja who ruled over the northeastern province of India, the district including the holy Ganges River. The young prince was married to Yashoda when he was about 17 years old and together they had a son named Rahula. At the age of 29, he left his life of luxury, as he felt compelled to purify his body and make it an instrument of the mind by ridding himself of earthly impulses and temptations.

This marble statue of Buddha demonstrates the high degree of artistic refinement achieved through the artistic expression of religious and philosophical beliefs. In most Asian countries this becomes a canonical form, which distinguishes the Buddha from all other figures. Cross-legged in yogic posture, the Buddha touches the earth with the tips of his fingers, palm faced downward and arm fully extended--a symbolic gesture summoning the earth goddess to witness his right to seat beneath the tree of wisdom called the bhumisparsha mudra. This posture is better known as ‘calling the Earth to witness’. It is the moment of enlightenment, the attainment of Buddhahood in which the transcendence is achieved. The sensation of tranquility and detachment experienced in this stage is evident in the facial features which are further enhanced by the smoothness and clarity of the medium. The Buddha's robe covers the left shoulder in the traditional monastic manner, is delicately pleated at the edges and fans out over the lotus base. The separation of the hair from the face by a broad band is a device of Khmer heads of the Angkor period and yet at the same time the accommodation of ethnic Burmese facial features highlights the personal aspirations of laymen. All the volumes of his body are perfectly proportioned, symmetrical, smooth and fully rounded: the shoulders are broad, and the hips narrow; his arms reach down to the knees and the lobes of his ears are distended. The general appearance associated with the Buddha characterizes him partly as a noble human being and ideal ruler and partly as superhuman. The elegance and spirituality of the Buddha form is well conceived in this Burmese marble representation. - (AM.0172)


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