Asia Society Home Asia Society Home
  1 of 2  next >
enlarge image
related objects
Sculpture from Burma (Myanmar)
Sculpture from Cambodia
Sculpture from Indonesia
Sculpture from Thailand
Ceramics from Thailand
Ceramics from Vietnam
Seated Buddha Surrounded by Scenes of His Life
Burma (Myanmar); 11th - 12th century
Pyrophyllite with gilding
H. 7 3/4 in. (19.7 cm); W. 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
The central scene depicts the Buddha Shakyamuni calling the earth to witness his right to achieve enlightenment by touching the earth with his right hand (bhumisparsha mudra). He is surrounded by two sets of figures. The outermost figures represent eight important scenes from his life, known as the Eight Great Events. These scenes are, clockwise from the lower left: his miraculous birth from the side of his mother, Maya; his first sermon; his taming of the rampaging elephant Nalagiri; his death; his descent from the heaven of thirty-three gods (Trayastrimsha Heaven); a miracle he performed at Shravasti in which he multiplied himself; and the offering of honey by a monkey. The inner six figures illustrate the life of the Buddha during the first seven weeks after his enlightenment with the central figure representing the first week. A number of Burmese plaques resembling this one have been found at remote sites in Asia. Some, such as this, have Tibetan written on the back (this plaque has the letter "a" written in Tibetan). Others have inscriptions in Chinese or Newari, the language of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. This wide distribution of related objects attests to the prominence of Burma in the dynamics of international trade and travel at the time these plaques were made.
Home |  South Asia |  Himalaya |  Southeast Asia |  China & Mongolia |  Korea |  Japan
Treasures |  Guided Tour |  Timeline |  Search
About the Asia Society | The Rockefellers and the Asia Society | Site Map
Credits | ©Copyright 2007 Asia Society