Women and East Asian Art

Buddha Shakyamuni

buddha shakyamuni

Buddhism was an emerging culture throughout the world and was very prominent throughout Central Tibet in the 12th century as seen in the sculpture Buddha Shakyamuni from the Metropolitan Museum.  This sculpture illustrates a seated Buddha made of a brass with colored blue pigments contrasting the brass color up in the hair and by the Buddha’s head. This is different from either of the previous two statues because the color contrast between brass and blue is something that had not been seen in either Thailand or Japan.  In the sculpture the Buddha is seated in an upright position in a state of meditation.  There are many Buddha’s who do not typically wear robes; however, this Buddha appears to have on a robe that is visible by coming over his back. There are many visual aspects that differentiate cultures and the Central Tibet Buddhist culture varies from these different cultures by the way the blue and brass contrast and by the type of clothing the Buddha is wearing.  These visual aspects demonstrate how different each culture is in regard to how the artists make their statues.

There is a different style of symbolism from the Central Tibet sculpture starting off with the way the Buddha’s hands are placed.  He is seated in a yogic meditation lowering his right hand and making a signal towards the Earth Goddess right before his enlightenment, resisting all the temptations that are presented in front of him[1].  The Buddha has a clear urna on his forehead which symbolizes the divine world that he is striving for.  Once again there is a flame like image on the top of his head which is extremely rare for Central Tibetan Buddhist artworks symbolizing how this Buddha has a fiercer spirit compared to other Buddhas in this time period and country.   The Buddha also appears to have a subtle smirk on their face representing the calming nature of meditation and satisfaction the Buddha’s get when in deep meditation.  The symbolism from this sculpture shows the slight differences between different countries and Buddhist cultures.  This helps people appreciate the symbolism that each sculpture represents, even though many of these differences are very subtle they can have a massive meaning in each sculpture and differentiate the different countries Buddhist sculptures.

[1]“The Metropolitan Museum, Buddha Shakyamuni,” November 22, 2019

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