Buddhism is a rational philosophy
propagated by the Indian sage Gautama Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha,
developed some 2500 years ago as a way of life based on the acceptance
of worldly reality. Existence for the Buddhist is suffering, caused
by unquenchable desire. The goal of Buddhist teaching is to attain a
release from existence by extinguishing desire, which in turn leads
to the state of Nirvana, the Buddhist heaven. This sculpture is depicting
the historical Buddha Gautama Sakyamuni, the Buddha of compassion who,
having achieved the highest evolutionary perfection, turns suffering
into happiness for all living beings.
Seated in virasana (his right leg resting on his left), Buddha makes
with his right hand the gesture of bhumisparsa mudra; Buddha touches
mother earth, indicating the subjugation of Mara, the evil god of desire
who had tempted the Buddha and who was his last obstacle in his attainment
of perfection. His left hand is resting in his lap, the gesture of contemplation.
The ushnisa, the symbol which denotes wisdom, is depicted on top of
his curly hair. Buddha is dressed in a monk's robe with his right shoulder
and arm bare. The elongated earlobes reflect his royal origins.
Having broken its bondage to Cambodia in the second quarter of the 13th
century, the kingdom of Sukhothai enjoyed a brief but artistically brilliant
period of independence until it became a vassal of Ayudhia in 1438.
During the reign of Ramkamhaeng (1279-1299 A.D.), the Sukhothai kingdom
was at its height of power and covered much of present-day Thailand,
with the exceptions of the north and north-east. After Sukhothai became
a sovereign state it left little evidence regarding its artistic past,
which was primarily a Khmer cultural tradition. Instead it developed
a style of its own, presenting Buddha images of a unique and new artistic
level, revealing the highest quality of the Thai cultural history. Although
only six dated images of the Sukhothai style are known, the dating of
these images can be determined by their pure classic stylistic elements
and the reflection of the high technical attainment at Sukhothai in
the bronze casting art. Typical characteristics are the shape of the
flame, large haircurls, pronounced ears, the line of the eyebrows continuing
in the nose, the lower part of the nose pointing to the earth, pronounced
ears, a shawl over Buddha's left shoulder with an edge continuing over
his left lower arm and left leg, the elementary shape of the throne,
the hands showing fingers of different lengths, and the smooth polished
surface of the high quality cast bronze.
This classic Sukhothai bronze Buddha is depicted with beautiful volumes
and harmonious balanced proportions. The fine polished casting has pure
lines and reveal the artistic and technical skills of the Sukhothai
masters. Every part of Buddha's body seems to radiate with the figure's
inner life. The energy which emerges from this important Thai bronze
suggest strongly his royal origin and high level of evolutionary perfection.
Formerly in a private collection, Switzerland.