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Cast Bronze Seated Buddha
Mandalay, Burma
18th-19th century

height: 58cm, width: 39.5cm, depth: 24cm

This large and particularly fine and naturalistic image of the Buddha has been cast in bronze or a copper alloy in the Mandalay style. The quality of the casting
and the surface patina suggest it is an earlier version of the Mandalay style rather than a late 19th century model, which most extant examples are likely to be.

The image shows the Buddha seated in
vajrasana, with his right hand gesturing to the earth in the bhumisparsa mudra position. Such a depiction is
particularly characteristic of religious sculpture in Burma (Lowry, 1974). The posture, known as 'calling the earth to witness', represents the moment when the
Buddha was seated in meditation under the Bodhi tree during the evening before his enlightenment. Mara asked him to name anyone who would give
evidence that he had given alms, and the Buddha motioned to the earth with his right hand and said that the earth would bear witness to that - in a previous
incarnation when he was known as Vessantara, he had given alms to such an extent that the earth had begun to quake.

The image shows the Buddha with a domed
usnisha, and a head of tiny curls. He is seated on a low platform or socle and dressed in ample robes with
naturalistic folds and pleating. Earlier images of the Buddha across Southeast Asia tended to show the monastic robes in a much more schematic way.

The eyes have been inlaid with a white material, usually described as mother-of-pearl, which in turn has been inlaid with black pupils - probably black lacquer.

The image is in a fine, stable condition. There is some small loss to the rim of the base. The image is hollow cast using the lost wax technique and the interior
retains some of the original core material used in the casting process.

As mentioned, most surviving Buddhas cast in the Mandalay style date to the second half of the 19th century but the patina and aged surface of this example
suggests an earlier dating, possibly to the 18th century.

Overall, the image is tremendously sculptural and decorative: the flow of the robes and the face are particularly pleasing.

References:
Fraser-Lu, S.,
Burmese Lacquerware, White Orchid Books, 2000.
Karow, O.,
Burmese Buddhist Sculpture: The Johan Moger Collection, White Lotus, 1991.
Lowry, J.,
Burmese Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1974.
McGill, F. (ed.),
Emerald Cities: Arts of Siam and Burma, 1775-1950, Asian Art Museum, 2009.

Provenance:
from a private collection, UK. The previous owner built up a collection of Buddha images mostly from old UK colonial sources, and did so over a long lifetime.

Inventory no.: 4598

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