seated cross-legged Buddha with PR hand pointing downward and PL hand palm up on lap; head bent slightly downward, eyes closed; brownish-red color

Shakyamuni Buddha Calling the Earth to Witness, late 18th century

Unknown artist, expand_more
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With his right hand touching the ground and his left hand held palm up in his lap, this figure shows the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, performing the “calling the earth to witness” gesture (bhumisparsha-mudra). It is a depiction of the moment immediately after his enlightenment. While meditating, the Buddha was bombarded by an army of demons and other fiends sent by the demoness Mara. The steadfast Buddha nevertheless overcame her distractions and achieved enlightenment. Mara tried to claim the Buddha’s enlightenment as her own, with the demon hoards as her witnesses, but the Buddha, reaching out his right hand to touch the ground before him, called upon the earth itself to bear witness to this achievement. To create this sculpture, the artist first created a core image of clay, then applied many thin layers of lacquer, and finally removed the clay core, leaving a thin-walled hollow image that is extraordinarily lightweight and durable.

Details
Title
Shakyamuni Buddha Calling the Earth to Witness
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2001.30
Curator Approved

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seated cross-legged Buddha with PR hand pointing downward and PL hand palm up on lap; head bent slightly downward, eyes closed; brownish-red color