During the reign of the Thai King Rama III (1824–51), an official list was compiled outlining the forty poses considered suitable for images of the Buddha. Images with different hand gestures (mudras) and postures represented the days and times of the week. The depiction of the standing Buddha holding an alms bowl was associated with Wednesday morning. Each of the official images was also a depiction of an event in the Buddha’s life. The alms bowl refers to the occasion when the Buddha Shakyamuni returned to his home city of Kapilavastu, after attaining enlightenment. Although his family had prepared breakfast for him at the palace, they forgot to invite him. Instead, the Buddha received alms from the townspeople, an act that reflected his renunciation of the princely life he had previously led.
Splendidly adorned in gold leaf, this image reflects the aesthetics of the Thai royal court in the nineteenth century. The pattern of the Buddha’s draped cloak is made up of masses of tiny images of the seated Buddha, and the inner lining is similarly intricate and ornate.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008
This is a sculpture depicting Buddha Shakyamuni after attaining enlightenment. It is from Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand (19th century). The sculpture is shown in an enlargeable image. Text onscreen gives information about the important hand gestures (mudras) that represent different days and times of the week and the story of Buddha Shakyamuni. Visual analysis reveals the regal aesthetics of the Thai royal court in the nineteenth century. The sculpture measures 140.0 cm high x 40.0 cm wide x 29.0 cm deep and was constructed out of bronze, lacquer and gold leaf.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra