Standing Buddha. Burma, 1800-1900 AD. Museum no. IM 39-1912

Standing Buddha. Burma, 1800-1900 AD. Museum no. IM 39-1912

Standing Buddha
Burma (Pagan)
1800-1900 AD
Teak, gilded lacquer, inset with glass, semi-precious stones
Museum no. IM 39-1912

This standing Buddha, of carved, lacquered and gilded teak, wears the crown, jewellery and robes associated with royalty. Figures of the Buddha dressed this way are in sharp contrast to the simple garments of a monk. But Buddha figures of this sort were originally based on similar figures in eastern Indian art of the Pala period (AD 750-1150), and became very popular in the late 18th century, when this representation became associated with the story of the subduing of Jambhupati. This oral tradition describes how a powerful king named Jambhupati threatened to annex the dominion of King Bimbisara of Rajagaha. Bimbisara called on the Buddha for help, and in response the Buddha sent one of his followers to bring Jambusara before him. In order to impress Jambhupati with his power, he had a magnificent palace built and appeared sitting on a jewelled throne under a white umbrella. Jambhupati acknowledged the Buddha and became a monk.

The Buddha is depicted wearing the gold insignia of a Burmese King of the Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1885) with its mass of jewelled winged elements, high rising crown and gold salwe (chain of office). The Buddha's right hand is raised in abhaya mudra (a gesture of protection and reassurance) and his left hand extended in varada (charity) mudra.