AGE: – 18th – 19th Century Ava
CONSTRUCTION: – Alabaster
DESCRIPTION: – Burmese Alabaster Buddha Statue Seated on Elephants – Yadanarpon Period (Early Mandalay) Traces of gold and lacquer
HEIGHT: – 67cm
WIDTH: – 44cm
DEPTH: – 31cm
Weight: – Heavy
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A unique and striking Burmese Alabaster Buddha Statue Seated on Elephants from the Yadanarpon Period (Early Mandalay period). Gold and lacquer worn with age.
In Buddhism the elephant is a symbol of mental strength. In the beginning of one’s meditation practice the uncontrolled mind is symbolized by a grey elephant, it can run wild at any moment and destroy everything in his path. After practicing dharma and taming the mind, the mind when brought under control is symbolized by a white powerful and strong elephant which can be directed wherever one wishes and can destroy all obstacles in his path.
Dona a respected and learned man who existed in the time of Buddha encountered the Buddha sitting at the base of a tree, he appeared beautiful with a calm and serene expression. He was completely composed and controlled like a tamed, alert, perfectly-trained elephant. The Buddha never looked over his shoulder when he wanted to see behind, instead he turned his body around completely, the way an elephant does. This was called his ‘elephant look’. In one remarkable poem in the scriptures, the Buddha’s virtues are compared with the various parts of a noble and majestic elephant.
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Gentleness and harmlessness are his front legs; simplicity and celibacy are the hind legs. Faith is his trunk, equanimity in his white tusks, mindfulness his neck and wisdom his head, Dhamma is his belly and solitude his tail. Meditating, focusing on his breath and being utterly composed, this mighty elephant walks, stands and sits with composure, he is perfectly trained and completely attained.
The Buddha was especially fond of elephants judging by how many times he referred to them and in Buddha art the Buddha image is frequently seen with an elephant. He was impressed by their intelligence, their mindful, deliberate behavior and particularly the male penchant for living alone in the jungle. He said, ‘On this matter the enlightened sage and the elephant with tusks as long as plough poles agree, they both love the solitude of the forest’.
In some respect the Buddha considered the elephant better than humans. The elephant trainer Pessa once said to him: ‘Humans are a tangle while animals are straight forward. I can drive an elephant undergoing training in the time it takes to make a trip to and from Campa, that elephant will exhibit every kind of stubbornness, truculence and trickery. But our servants, messengers and employees, they say one thing, do another and think something else, the Buddha agreed with Pessa.
In this bronze Buddha statue depicting a scene from the life of the Buddha, the elephant is seen under the fingers of the Buddha’s right hand indicating the elephants obedience to the Buddha.