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4. Dipankara, the Buddha of Fixed Light
17th-18th century
Bronze, gilt, paint, semi-precious stones
Object 344, (gallery E, alcove 3, E-10)

Dipankara The Dipankara Buddha is said to predate the historical Buddha in a world cycle long past and to have foretold his coming. He is sometimes equated with Adibuddha, the "original Buddha." Since about the 17th century his cult has been popular with Nepalese Buddhists who consider him a protector of merchants and associate him with alms-giving. One of Dipankara's local names, the "Samyak god", refers to an alms-giving festival where images such as this one are displayed, as well as images with wooden or basketry bodies and metal heads and hands. Basketry images consist of a large, hollow torso covered with clothing and ornaments capable of concealing a man who animates it in procession.

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text © Mary Slusser and images © Patan Museum
photo by Rupert Steiner