Images showing the Buddha in bhumisparsha mudra, or calling the Earth to witness, are the most favoured in Burmese Buddhist art. The pose symbolises one of the most important moments in the Buddha’s last earthly life when, at the point of enlightenment, he was tempted by Mara, the god of desire and death. The Buddha extended his right hand to touch the Earth and in reply the Earth Goddess rose up and, wringing the water from her hair, washed away Mara and his armies.
The Shan style is characterised by the youthful Buddha’s simple slim lines, gently smiling mouth and minimal clothing. The inscription on the base states that the sculpture was made as an act of merit in September 1807.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label