Votive seal, Museum no. IM.123-1999

Votive seal, Museum no. IM.123-1999

Votive seal with the Buddha and attendant Bodhisattvas
Moulded terracotta clay
Bihar, India
10th century AD
Museum no. IS.123-1999
Diameter: 8.9 cm

All major sites marking key events in the life of the Buddha assumed an ongoing importance in the Buddhist world as major pilgrim centres. The production of votives and other auspicious objects was an important activity, both for objects to be deposited by pilgrims as meritorious offerings and to be taken away as pilgrim souvenirs. This clay votive would have served as such a religious souvenir. It depicts the Buddha enthroned on a lotus (padmasana), seated in the earth-touching gesture (bhumisparsamudra). He is flanked by two fly-whisk bearing attendant bodhisattvas, one flanked by a lotus stem, suggesting an identification as Avalokitesvara-Padmapani. All three figures have flaming halos and are supported by a lotus flower. The Buddha’s posture points to this seal being produced at Bodhgaya, the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment. The entire composition is surrounded by small stupas (chaityas) and a seal impression in the lower rim bears an indecipherable inscription.