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Buddha in Teaching Mudra (Vitarka)
Item No. 17013

17th - 18th Century, Buddhist, China
Wood with Polychrome
29" x 17" x 11"
( 73.66 x 43.18 x 27.94 cm)
(H x W x D)

This image of the Buddha is seated with an extremely benevolent expression, his feet crossed in the meditative posture with the exposed soles of his feet up in padmasana and both hands in the vitarka mudra, the gesture of teaching. The right hand is held up at chest level, while the left is held slightly above the lap, each hand with the exquisitely delicately middle finger and thumb touching to form a circle.

The delicate face is flanked by large ears with well defined and incised pendulous lobes symbolizing the infinite wisdom of the Enlightened One. His lotus-shaped half-closed eyes glaze down serenely under arching eyebrows that curve above a straight nose and a brightly painted bud shaped mouth with the slightest hint of a smile, the expression of one who is familiar with the ways of the universe. Tightly coiled hair surrounds his dome shaped ushnisha with a black coloration that contrasts with and emphasizes the pale tones of his face and upper torso. His slender and elegant body appears to float above gracefully flowing robes which swirl over his backless throne in folds reminiscent of clouds.

Much of the original pigmentation is intact. The white tones of his face, torso, hands and feet are emphasized by the multi colored robe with hues of cinnabar, cobalt blue, pastel green and black.

The fine features of the face, stylization of the body and exquisite rendering of the drapery folds of this image make it a true masterpiece and bestow upon it an illuminating presence. Given its size, importance and masterful carving, it was probably originally placed on the main altar of a Ming Dynasty Buddhist temple and, therefore, should hold a place of honor commensurate with its spirituality and artistry.

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