KAMPHAENG PHET OR PHITSANULOK
EARLY AYUTTHAYA PERIOD
EARLY 16TH CENTURY
H. 48 CMS, 19 INS
An exceptionally beautiful bronze Buddha seated in virasana on an unusual raised ornate pedestal, his right hand in bhumisparsimudra (the gesture of ‘summoning the earth to witness’) and his left resting in his lap in dhyanamudra, the face tranquil beneath deeply arched brows and a conical chignon rising to a flame finial, wearing a plain clinging sanghati; with extensive traces of gilding remaining.
The kingdom of Ayutthaya, established by King U Thong in 1350 in the Chao Phraya River basin to the north of Bangkok was, until the Burmese attacked and burned its capital in 1767, one of the richest and most enduring kingdoms of Southeast Asia, attracting innumerable merchants and other visitors, not only from neighbouring Asian countries but also from Europe as well.
The body and head of this sculpture show a marked Sukhothai influence. For a closely related image with a similar ornate base, see fig. 35 (cat. no. 33) in F. McGill et al, The Kingdom of Siam: The Art of Central Thailand, San Francisco: Asian Art Museum, 2005. The Buddha referred to was discovered in the shoulder of the great Buddha at Phra Mongkhon Bophit, Ayutthaya in the 1950s. The 22 metre high Phra Mongkhon Bophit Buddha, one of the largest bronze images in Thailand, is believed to have been dedicated in 1538 and our example probably dates to the same period. A bronze Ganesha in the Metropolitan Museum has a similarly ornate base – see fig. 159 (cat. no. 40), ibid.
PROVENANCE: Private Canadian Collection.