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Ascetic Sakyamuni

Asian Art

Depicting an image of the Buddha emaciated after a long period of fasting, this work is meant to demonstrate major principles of the Buddhist religion. Biographies of the Buddha describe the early phases of his religious quest, trying multiple paths in an attempt to reach enlightenment. On one of these paths—fasting—the Buddha found that his entire experience was spent thinking about his body’s needs, ultimately posing so much of a distraction that he was unable to engage in true spiritual thought. This discovery that extreme self-denial is not the path to enlightenment became a central tenet of Buddhism. Instead the Buddha began to encourage others to follow a middle path—one that was neither filled with excess nor deprived of basic needs—as a means of achieving the greatest religious experience. This image of the ascetic Sakyamuni is a cautionary reminder of those ideals.
MEDIUM Wood with pigmented lacquer, inlaid crystal, metal
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 16th century
    PERIOD Momoyama Period
    DIMENSIONS 8 1/2 x 6 1/16 x 7 1/8 in. (21.6 x 15.4 x 18 cm) a - figure: 7 3/4 × 6 × 6 3/8 in. (19.7 × 15.2 × 16.2 cm) b - base: 1 × 6 1/4 × 6 1/4 in. (2.5 × 15.9 × 15.9 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 88.145a-b
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Asian Art Council
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Ascetic Sakyamuni, 16th century. Wood with pigmented lacquer, inlaid crystal, metal, 8 1/2 x 6 1/16 x 7 1/8 in. (21.6 x 15.4 x 18 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Asian Art Council, 88.145a-b. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 88.145a-b_front_PS6.jpg)
    IMAGE front, 88.145a-b_front_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2013
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