AGE: – Pagan 11th – 12th Century
CONSTRUCTION: – Bronze and lacquer
DESCRIPTION: – Rare Bronze Burmese Buddhist Eight Scene Stele
HEIGHT: – 36cm
DEPTH: – up to 6cm
WEIGHT:– 14.25 kg.
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Rare Bronze Burmese Buddhist Eight Scene Stele dating from 11th – 12th Century. This stele shows the central figure of the Buddha with hand gesture in Bhumispara mudra, seated on a double lotus throne supported by two naga kings.
The scenes surrounding the Buddha are representative of the eight main events of the Buddha’s life starting from the scene on the bottom left where his mother Maya is seen giving birth to Siddhartha, with one arm around her sister and the other holding onto the branch of the sala tree, culminating in the scene at the top of the stele where the Buddha is lying down with two of his main disciples kneeling at either end at the time of death and entering into nirvana (parinirvana).
The central Buddha is flanked by Bodhisattva’s and the two Naga Kings underneath support his throne. A further scene at the base we assume to be the future Buddha, referred to as a Maitreya or Bodhisattva before enlightenment with disciples on either side.
A coating of black lacquer, more than likely from the sap of the black varnish tree (Melanorrhoea usitata) covers the surface of the stele. It is possible this lacquer was applied to strengthen and preserve the bronze. There are some cracks on the back of the stele that indicate the metal was under stress, not sure if it may have been saved from a fire, which is not improbable considering the history of earthquakes and upheavals that Myanmar has experienced over the past thousand years. If only it could talk.
Although initially these stele were likely gilded, gilding with real gold leaf seen here would have been applied in more recent times.
Articles related to Andagu stone Buddhist carvings
The Eight Scenes
Life of the Buddha