Description This tablet was made for a pilgrim to Bodh Gaya, the place in eastern India where Shakyamuni Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment. It depicts the Buddha at the moment of his enlightenment: Meditating under the Bodhi tree, he reached down with his right hand to call the earth goddess to witness the great event. At Bodh Gaya, a shrine was later built around the tree; here, it is represented as a tiered structure with branches growing between its various levels. The image of the Buddha, flanked by two bodhisattvas, recalls both the temple’s devotional sculpture and the Buddha himself. The inscription along the periphery, in an Indian script, relates the “Buddhist creed” which states that all things arise from a cause, and that the Buddha has explained both this cause and how to bring it to an end (and thus how to achieve spiritual liberation). Tibetan letters on the back of the tablet suggest that it was made for a Tibetan patron, either in Bodh Gaya or along the pilgrimage route. Votive tablets such as this one served both as meritorious offerings and as souvenirs. Most were made of clay; metal tablets would have been more expensive to produce and to acquire.
- 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.
- Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art. Asia Society, New York. 2010.
Provenance B. N. Bharwy, New Delhi [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; John and Berthe Ford, Baltimore, February 1977, [mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 2008, by gift.
Inscriptions front & back
Credit Gift of John and Berthe Ford, 2008
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