Lao Buddha in Freedom From Fear Mudra (Abhaya)
Item No. 3148
19th Century, Buddhist, Laos
Lacquer over Wood with Gilt
20" x 3.75" x 3.75"
( 50.8 x 9.525 x 9.525 cm)
(H x W x D)
This standing Lao Buddha is portrayed in abhaya-mudra, a term meaning fearlessness in Sanskrit. The mudra is often referred to as “Freedom from Fear” or the “Gesture of Protection” and symbolizes benevolence, protection, peace and dispelling of fear. This gesture represents the fearlessness of Buddha, symbolizes his spiritual power, confers to others the same freedom from fear, and, thus, can also signify “fear not” to the devotees viewing the Buddha image. It is the gesture that Buddha Sakyamuni made immediately after reaching enlightenment. The abhaya-mudra is made with the right hand raised to shoulder, arm crooked, the palm of the hand facing outward, and fingers upright and joined. In accordance with the scriptures, the fingers are of equal length, indicating the perfection of the Enlightened One.
In this statue, the Buddha holds both hands in abhaya-mudra, a form unique to Southeast Asia. In Laos and Thailand this mudra is also referred to as “Stopping the Ocean” or “Causing the Waters to Subside.” Which represent the Buddha’s mastery over passion. It has also been interpreted in Laos as being the ‘Buddha “Quieting Family Quarrels.”
In this image the Buddha has an oval face with prominent arched eyebrows, a flat broad nose, and extended earlobes that lie flat against his face. A distinctive finial or radiance in the form of a flame emerges from the ushnisha, the fleshy protuberance that indicates the Buddha’s status as an Enlightened Being. He wears a thin long uttarasanga (monastic robe) and antaravasaka (undergarment) wrapped around his hips and carries a folded sanghati on his left shoulder.
Somkiart Lopetcharat, "Lao Buddha: The Image and Its History," Bangkok, Siam International Book Company, Ltd., 2000.
K.I. Matics, "Gestures of the Buddha," Bangkok, Chulalongkorn University Press, 2001.