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Seated Buddha Shakyamuni

Asian Art

Gilt bronze icons of Buddhist divinities were ritually and aesthetically significant early in China's reception of Buddhism. These deeply venerated, portable images were initially introduced into China by missionaries, travelers, and pilgrims. Around the third century, the Chinese began to cast their own bronze Buddhist icons, establishing a sculptural tradition that combined China's own heritage with those of non-Chinese cultures. This Buddha, dressed in a Chinese-style robe and seated in the lotus position, makes the gestures of preaching and vow fulfilling with his hands. The four-character inscription on the back—"made in the yi chou year"—dates the statue to either A.D. 965 or 1025.

MEDIUM Gilt bronze
  • Place Made: China
  • DATES 965 or 1025
    DYNASTY Liao Dynasty
    PERIOD Liao Dynasty
    DIMENSIONS 8 1/2 x 7 1/4 x 4 3/4 in. (21.6 x 18.4 x 12.1 cm)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Asian Art Council in memory of Mahmood T. Diba and Mary Smith Dorward Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
    You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
    CAPTION Seated Buddha Shakyamuni, 965 or 1025. Gilt bronze, 8 1/2 x 7 1/4 x 4 3/4 in. (21.6 x 18.4 x 12.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Asian Art Council in memory of Mahmood T. Diba and Mary Smith Dorward Fund, 1999.42. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1999.42_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 1999.42_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Gilt bronze figure of Buddha Sakyamuni, shown seated cross-legged with right hand raised in a gesture to be identified, with two fingers crossed, and left hand extended in varamudra. The serene figure is wearing a long flowing robe with wide sleeves, crossed over in front and fallen in wide pleated folds, with the sanghati tied at the left shoulder. The figure has a broad round face with ridged eyebrows and a prominent urna. Heavily lidded eyes are set in a quiet introspective gaze and the ears have long, pendulous lobes. The ungilded hair is arranged in tight curls and represented by rows of rounded knobs, with demi-florette shaped ornament in the center front. Four characters are inscribed on the back towards the base which read "yichou sui zao". This inscription translates to 'made in the yi chou year' and indicates the second year of a sixty year cycle, either 965 or 1025 AD. The Qidans (Khitans) of the Liao Dynasty were hunting and pastoral people who originated from eastern Inner Mongolia and occupied North China under the auspices of the Liao Dynasty from 907 to 1125. Although the Qidans actively retained many traditions of their originary steppe culture, they were heavily influenced by the Chinese in terms of society and culture. Buddhism also had an impact on Qidan religious and ritual practices as evident by the number of Liao dynasty Buddhist objects known, particularly gilt bronze figures of Buddhist deities. Condition: Intact and in excellent condition. Some slight wear of gilt on surface. Hairline crack on two fingers and a tiny dent in front center of costume. Casting flaw under chin.
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