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Buddha Shakyamuni

Late 9th-early 10th century

India, Bihar

Schist

H. 28 1/4 x W. 17 3/4 x D. 7 1/4 in. (71.8 x 45.1 x 18.4 cm)

Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.37


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This image of the Buddha makes the earth-touching gesture (bhumisparsha mudra) with his right hand and the gesture of meditation with his left. Together, these two gestures signify the moment when the Buddha-to-be overcame the forces of the demon Mara and reached down to call the earth goddess (represented below holding a water pot) to witness his right to achieve enlightenment. Branching out above the Buddha are leaves which symbolize the bodhi tree under which he sat and meditated before his enlightenment. Flanking the Buddha are two bodhisattvas, Maitreya and Avalokiteshvara, who stand to his right and left respectively and are identifiable by the different types of lotuses they hold.