seated Buddha with hands in lap; wearing necklace, bracelets, earrings and hatlike crown; coiled snake body throne; 7 horselike heads on back of throne, each with a floral medallion under chin

Naga-enthroned Buddha, 12th-13th century

Unknown artist, expand_more

Bronzeexpand_more

Gift of Michele and David Deweyexpand_more  99.216.3a-c

G213expand_more

This small bronze represents a transcendent Buddha, who is seated on the coils of a seven-headed snake. Under Jayavarman VII (1181-1218), tantric Buddhism became the state religion, as opposed to a form of Buddhism that stressed the historical events in the Buddha's life. The naga (snake) enthroned Buddha represented the ideal form of an enlightened being, and also represented the king himself. After the 13th century the image of the naga-enthroned Buddha was appropriated by a new sect, which focused on historical events in the Buddha's life. They destroyed many images with tantric iconography that could not be incoporated into their mythology; however, naga-enthroned buddhas were interpreted as a post-enlightenment event, when the Buddha was shielded by a seven headed serpent during a flood so he could meditate undisturbed. Thus many of these images today are still incorrectly identified as depicting the Buddha sheltered by the serpent Mucalinda.

Details
Title
Naga-enthroned Buddha
Role
Artist
Accession Number
99.216.3a-c
Curator Approved

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seated Buddha with hands in lap; wearing necklace, bracelets, earrings and hatlike crown; coiled snake body throne; 7 horselike heads on back of throne, each with a floral medallion under chin