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, Seated Buddha REDUCE 2/1


ON DISPLAY
LVL 1

Asian Art
Indian subcontinent gallery

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Kushan period (2nd century BCE - 3rd century CE) Seated Buddha 2nd century red sandstone red sandstone
129.5 h x 101.5 w x 30.5 d cm
Purchased with the generous assistance of Roslyn Packer AO 2007
Accession No: NGA 2007.217

  • In early representations, the Buddha was indicated by symbols rather than in human form. The introduction of figurative Buddha imagery coincided with the division of the Buddhist community into the Theravada and Mahayana sects. The former emphasises monasticism as a route to enlightenment, while the latter developed into a more humanistic religion that promised salvation for all devotees. Around this time, two styles of Buddha imagery developed—one at Gandhara in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the other at Mathura in central India.

    This Buddha from Mathura has several of the thirty-two marks of a great being, including a tuft of hair between the eyebrows (urna), wheels on the soles of the feet, folds of flesh at the neck, elongated earlobes and the chest of a lion. Each of the Buddha’s toes is carved with a small swastika, another recurring symbol of Buddhism. The cranial bump (ushnisha) signifies spiritual advancement. The Buddha, dressed in sheer robes, is shown seated with legs crossed in the pose of meditation. He holds one hand, now missing, aloft in what would have been the fear-dispelling gesture (abhaya mudra). Characteristic of Kushan dynasty sculpture from Mathura, the Buddha is depicted with a robust torso, a plump, gently smiling face and wide-open eyes.


    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

  • Description

    This is a sculpture depicting Buddha from the Kushan period (2nd century BCE - 3rd century CE) in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India. Buddha is dressed in sheer robes and in a pose of meditation. The sculpture is shown in three enlargeable images. Text onscreen gives information about the various representations of Buddha at this time, and explanations of the various symbols included in this ancient work. The sculpture measures at 129.5 cm high x 101.5 cm wide x 30.5 cm deep and was constructed out of red sandstone.

    Educational value

    • This is an excellent resource for the Responding strand in the visual arts curriculum, especially for content descriptions that are broadly about considering the wider context of visual artworks, such as the social, cultural and historical contexts. In the secondary years it is of value to both students and teachers. It may also be relevant for the India depth study in the year 7 history curriculum, particularly for the content description about the significant beliefs of Indian society.
    • The resource is useful for the Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia cross-curriculum priority, especially for promoting an understanding of the religious diversity within India and other parts of Asia. In particular, Buddhism and the associated traditions and belief systems could be further examined using this resource. It also identifies their contribution to world history and influence and interaction with world aesthetics and creative pursuits.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010

  • In early representations, the Buddha was indicated by symbols rather than shown in human form. The introduction of human-style imagery coincided with the fragmentation of the Buddhist community into Theravada and Mahayana sects. The former emphasised monasticism as a route to enlightenment, while the latter developed into a more humanistic religion which promised salvation for devotees. Around that time, two styles of Buddha images developed – one at Gandhara in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the other at Mathura in central India.


    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
    From: Asian gallery extended display label