AGE: – Pre 16th Century – Rare
CONSTRUCTION – Sandstone
DESCRIPTION: – Rare Martabon Mon Art Sandstone Buddhist Stelae – one corner damaged in transit (see picture)
HEIGHT: – 92cm
WIDTH: – 58cm
DEPTH: – 12cm
WEIGHT: – Very Heavy
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A Rare Martabon Mon Art Sandstone Buddhist Stelae – This sculpture depicts the descent of the Buddha from the Trayastrimsa (Tavatimsa) Heaven after he preached to his mother and those in the realm of the Devas the Four Noble Truths (Dharma). The Buddha is standing on double a Lotus pedestal flanked by two gods from Hindu mythology, Brahma on the left with three of his four heads visible holding an umbrella over the Buddha’s head and Indra on the right carrying the Buddha’s alms bowl with the nun Utpalavarna (Bhiksunia) kneeling at the feet of the Buddha. Sections of the tripartite ladder can be seen above his left shoulder and behind the left foot.
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It would appear that there was a layer of some sort of coating covering the front of this sculpture, but now degraded. This sculpture is sandstone not cement.
This scene is depicted in both the Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist scriptures and sculptures where the Buddha’s descent from heaven is frequently seen flanked by the attendant figures of Indra and Brahma, the ladder is shown in order to suggest the sky.
The descent from Trayastrimsa heaven was an important incident in the life of the Buddha, the earliest representation of the event is documented at Bharhut a village located in Madhya Pradesh in central India, renowned for its famous Buddhist relics found in the Sanchi Stupa No. 2. This event is also depicted in Gupta and medieval sculpture.
The descent of the Buddha In Gupta sculpture is also frequently seen flanked by Brahma and Indra, one holding a parasol and the other a chauri. In later medieval sculptures the ladder is very often omitted by the sculptor altogether.
Indra in the Hindu religion is a Vedic deity described as the supreme ruler of the Gods and the king of heaven, leader of the Devas, protector of humanity against all evil forces, he is also described as the God of thunder, storms, rain and lightning.
Brahma is the first God in the Hindu triumvirate, or trimnurti, the others are Vishnu and Shiva, these three Gods are believed to be responsible for the creation, upkeep and destruction of the world. Brahma is depicted with four heads, believed to represent the four Vedas.
There are certain beliefs among scholars that the proportions of the Buddha are fixed and to a degree yes, but we have had the question regards the large nose on the Buddha in this stele and that the proportions of the nose are not correct. In Myanmar, during these early times there was would appear to be no standard size assigned to the nose of the Buddha. The nose on this statue is comparable to the noses we have seen personally and taken pictures of in Myanmar.
To view other examples of the face of Burmese Buddha styles in Bagan’s Ananda Temple.