AGE: – pre 16th Century
CONSTRUCTION: – Bronze
DESCRIPTION: – Burmese Pagan Bronze Buddha Statue – There is crack on head and small round hole in the left arm (see pictures). This piece is interesting as it has an emblem or symbol on the back which could possibly indicate a point in time when this Buddha statue was created or the seal or mark of the donor. (See picture).
HEIGHT: – 73cm
WIDTH: – 32cm
DEPTH: – 22cm
WEIGHT: – 23.50 Kg.
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Rare and beautiful Burmese Post Pagan Bronze Buddha Statue with the tips of the fingers on the right hand resting on the back of an elephant. This gesture would represent the taming of the elephant Nalagiri with the elephant kneeling before him. At the back of the base is an unusual symbol, likely to be an emblem of the family or person who commissioned this Buddha statue. The Buddha is seen here sitting on a double lotus pedestal with a scrolled decoration on the front and sides above the base.
The Importance of the Elephant in Buddhism
The elephant is highly significant in Hinduism and in Buddhism, and is depicted in much of their iconography. The Buddhist belief is that the Buddha Shakyamuni was born as an elephant in a previous incarnation. In his last incarnation as Siddhartha Gautama, he descended from the Tushita pure land and entered his mother’s womb in the form of a white elephant. In India the human figure with an elephant face referred to as Ganesha is the emanation of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.
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An other related incidence related to an elephant is when the Buddha’s cousin Devadatta, the son of King Suppabuddha and his wife Pamita, became materialistic and conceited and asked the Buddha to make him leader of the Sangha, the Buddha rejected his request, whereupon Devadatta became jealous and angry with the Buddha and sought revenge. On his third attempt to kill the Buddha he forced the elephant Nalagiri to drink liquor, hoping that the elephant would attack and kill him.
When the Buddha approached the elephant, the drunken elephant charged wildly towards him, making a lot of noise, but the Buddha remained calm. When he got closer to the Buddha Nalagiri felt the love and kindness emanate from him and he suddenly stopped. The elephant became docile and allowed the Buddha to stroke him. The Buddha spoke softly to the elephant, after which the elephant removed the dust from the Buddha’s feet with his trunk and scattered the dust over his own head, the elephant finally retreated without turning his back on the Buddha.
Davadatta was later to become ill, and on his deathbed he repented his actions.