Description The Buddha Akshobhya is one of five cosmic Buddhas, each of whom is associated with a particular direction, gesture, and color. Akshobhya, Buddha of the east, is recognized by the earth-touching gesture ("bhumisparsha mudra"), made by extending the right hand downward with the palm facing inward. When represented in painting, Akshobhya’s color is blue. Perhaps the turquoise inlaid into this Buddha’s "ushnisha" (the cranial protrusion that signals his heightened wisdom) recalls his blue color for some viewers and devotees. As an unpainted sculpture, it would be easy to identify this Buddha as the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, at the time of his enlightenment, when he too touches the earth as he sits in meditation. The object on this Buddha’s pedestal, however, confirms his identity: Known as a "vajra," it is the symbol of Akshobhya, who is head of the vajra family of tantric Buddhist deities.
- Desire and Devotion: Art from India, Nepal, and Tibet in the John and Berthe Ford Collection. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara; Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham; Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong. 2001-2003.
Provenance Ulrich von Schroeder, Zurich, Switzerland [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; John and Berthe Ford, Baltimore, July 1994, by purchase; given to Walters Art Museum, 2014.
Credit Gift of John and Berthe Ford, 2014
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