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The Buddha Shakyamuni in Abhaya-mudra

6th century

Uttar Pradesh, India

Copper alloy

H. 27 x W. 10 3/4 x D. 7 in. (68.6 x 27.3 x 17.8 cm)

Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.8

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In this rare and important bronze image from eastern India, the Buddha raises his right hand in the gesture of reassurance (abhaya mudra) and holds a piece of unattached cloth in his left hand. This cloth reflects a misunderstanding of an earlier tradition in which the Buddha holds the ends of his robes in his left hand. As in most representations, the Buddha wears the traditional garments of a monk. These consist of two large rectangular pieces of cloth, one wrapped around his waist and the other draped over his shoulders; the two layers can be seen where the hemlines fall at different levels. The stylization of the folds of this Buddha's nearly transparent robe follows conventions established in Mathura (north-central India) in the last quarter of the 5th century.