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Head and Torso of a Buddha

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, North, 2nd floor (Japan)

The Sukhothai Period (1250–1378) was a great period of Thai sculpture, when a national style emerged. This is evidenced by the heroic proportions of the Sukhothai Buddha torso and head. As an exemplary work or monumental bronze casting, the Buddha eminently demonstrates that statuary made in later periods could be enormously expressive. The expansive chest is covered by a transparent garment covering only the left shoulder. The silhouette is evoked by a few schematic folds of the drapery. The Buddha possesses such features of supernatural anatomy as the ushnisha (cranial protuberance), spiral curls, and extended earlobes, which reflect back to the days before his enlightenment, when he wore heavy earrings as the Indian Prince Siddhartha.

  • Place Made: Thailand
  • DATES 14th century
    PERIOD Sukhothai Period
    DIMENSIONS 38 x 22 1/2 x 11 in., 189 lb. (96.5 x 57.2 x 27.9 cm, 85.73kg)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Purchased with funds given by the Charles Bloom Foundation, Inc., in memory of Mildred and Charles Bloom
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Identified by his usual attributes: raised snail curls and ushnisha (cranial protuberance), elongated earlobes, downcast eyes, and vallis (three lines on neck). The figure's expansive chest is particularly covered by a transparent garment covering only the left shoulder and ending in a narrow shawl flap. The right section of the chest is unclothed in the fashion typical of the period. The type belongs to the so-called "Lion-type group", so-named for the image of Buddha as Sakyasinha the "Lion of the Sakyas." Since the arms are missing we cannot date the piece specifically, or confirm identification as Sakyamuni in Earth-touching pose or with his hands and begging bowl in his lap. The stylized modeling and proportions are heroic and classic of the period: the breadth of the shoulders in relation to the size of the head; the depression of the naval; the length of the earlobes; and the modeling of the torso in relation to the sweep of the garment. This is emphasized by the exaggerated features of his physiognomy. The patina is a dark green color. Conditions: The flame finial of the ushnisha is void. The figure's left arm from the shoulder and the right from above the elbow are void. The surface of the area around the left breast and a section of the chest are unevenly corroded, but intact.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, North, 2nd floor (Japan)
    CAPTION Head and Torso of a Buddha, 14th century. Bronze, 38 x 22 1/2 x 11 in., 189 lb. (96.5 x 57.2 x 27.9 cm, 85.73kg). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased with funds given by the Charles Bloom Foundation, Inc., in memory of Mildred and Charles Bloom, 88.94. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 88.94_PS11.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 88.94_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2021
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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