Description This small stele, possibly carved as a personal object of devotion, depicts the Buddha Shakyamuni at the moment of enlightenment. Sitting under the Bodhi tree, the leaves of which are just above his head, he reaches down to call upon the earth to witness the event. Just below the hand making the earth-touching gesture ("bhumisparsha mudra"), a kneeling figure gazes up at the Buddha and joins his hands in respect and devotion. This must be Pingalayana, the patron of the sculpture named in the inscription below. The remaining text, carved into the textile draped over the Buddha’s lotus throne and in the space to its right, expresses the principle realized by the Buddha at the time of his enlightenment. Commonly known as the "Buddhist creed," it states that everything trapping us in worldly existence arises from a cause, and that the Buddha has explained the cause and the means to its end—and therefore the means to spiritual liberation.
- 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 Stuart Perrin, New York, New York [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; John and Berthe Ford, Baltimore, March 25, 1984, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 2010, by gift.
Inscriptions Creed & name (Mukherjee transcr.)
Credit Gift of John and Berthe Ford, 2010
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