Standing Buddha, 15th-16th century (Ayutthaya Period, 1351-1767)
Cast bronze, gold, shell, and resin
Overall: 57 1/2 in x 19 1/2 in x 14 1/4 in; 146.1 cm x 49.5 cm x 36.2 cm
Gift of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation
The religion of Buddhism emerged in India in the 6th century BCE and spread widely, becoming a major cultural and religious force in the Himalayas, China, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia. Representations of the Buddha were produced in all of these regions, each area creating sculptures that reflected both universal precepts of Buddhism, and distinct, local artistic traditions. This work of art, made in the Ayutthaya Kingdom (present-day Thailand) features many common attributes of the Buddha. The elongated earlobes, for instance, are symbolic of the life of luxury the Buddha led before renouncing worldly possessions; before his spiritual awakening, the Buddha was a prince and his ears would have been weighed down with precious earrings. His lowered eyes convey compassion, and his forward facing palm is a gesture called the abhaya mudra—meaning “fear not”—which gives protection and reassurance to the worshipper.