Buddha in Vitarka
Item No. 17006
18th - 19th Century, Buddhist, China
Wood with Pigmentation
27" x 18" x 16"
( 68.58 x 45.72 x 40.64 cm)
(H x W x D)
This masterfully carved Buddha sits with his right hand held up in front of him in vitarka, the teaching mudra, and his left outstretched in lap. His exposed feet are in padmasana, the soles held upward. His half closed eyes are cast downward in a serene expression, while his bud shaped lips reveal a hint of a smile, indicating that he is knowledge about the way of the universe. His soft facial features are emphasized by pigmentation, with painted arched eyebrows and red on the lips.
He has several of the features known collectively as lakshanas, or the physical characteristics of a Buddha. Many of the lakshanas portrayed here reflect the illuminating and radiating power of the Buddha. In the center of his head is an indentation, representing his urna, which might have originally contained a piece of cut glass to represent a jewel. The urna, an auspicious mark on the forehead between the eye brows, is 31st lakshana which symbolizes and radiates wisdom. It is also a symbol for a third eye, which represents the power to emit a beam of light and illuminate the world. A raised knob or cranial protuberance on his head referred to as an ushnisha, denotes the seat of intellectual powers, wisdom and divine energies. In the center of the ushnisha is a hemisphere, called a nikkeishu in Japanese, which symbolizes a jewel radiating the light of wisdom. He has the characteristic pendulous ears, which represent his princely origins under his hair which is represented in snail like tufts. This image was originally placed in a temple or monastery. It probably rested on a throne or pedestal, as there is no platform carved as part of the sculpture.