, Buddha calling the Earth to witness Enlarge 1 /1
Early Ayutthaya period Thailand
Buddha calling the Earth to witness [The Buddha Shakyamuni in the attitude of bhumiparsamudra] 1347-1400 Place made: Thailand
Creation Notes: Ayutthaya period (1347-1400)
Materials & Technique: sculptures, bronze; lost wax casting
Dimensions: 92.0 h x 56.0 w x 39.5 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1977
Accession No: NGA 77.23
Provenance:
  • The supplied chain of ownership for this object is currently being reviewed and further research is underway. The provenance information listed has been substantiated by documentation. Details may be refined and updated as research progresses.
  • with art dealership Spink and Son, Zurich, 1974 or before
  • which sold it to the Australian National Gallery, Canberra, 1977 for CHF 215,000

This image of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, is in the U-Thong style of fourteenth-century Thailand. The style was apparently named after Prince U Thong, the first king of the Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya. U Thong reigned as Ramathibodi I from 1351 to 1369, and actively propagated Theravada Buddhism as the state religion. This sculpture represents a move away from the Khmer-influenced Mahayana traditions of the Lopburi period towards a focus on the teachings of the earthly Buddha, Shakyamuni or Gautama.

The Buddha wears an unadorned monk’s robe, folded across the left shoulder. His right hand extends to the ground in the earth-touching gesture (bhumisparsha mudra), signifying the Buddha calling on the earth to witness his attainment of enlightenment. His legs are crossed, with only the sole of the right foot visible. With a serene facial expression, the Buddha is shown with the pronounced cranial bump, capped with a flame-like jewel, characteristic of Thai Buddhist art. For Theravada Buddhists, this type of image serves as a focus for contemplation of the dharma, or Buddha’s teachings.


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

This image of the Buddha Shakyamuni is in the U Thong style of 14th century Thailand. Apparently named after Prince U Thong who, as Ramathibodi I (reigned 1352–1369), was the first King of the Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya. U Thong actively propagated Theravada Buddhism as the state religion and this image represents a move away from the Khmer-influenced Mahayana traditions of Lopburi towards a focus on the teachings of the earthly Buddha.

The Buddha’s robe is plain, as is the outermost garment, folded across the left shoulder. The hands are in the Earth touching bhumisparsha mudra signifying the Buddha’s attainment of enlightenment, while the legs are crossed with only the sole of the right foot showing. For his followers the image serves as a focus for contemplation of the Buddha’s teachings, the dharma.


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