Thursday, April 7, 2011

Buddha Shakyamuni at the Rubin Museum of Art

Part of the collection of the Rubin Museum of Art is the Buddha Shakyamuni from northwestern Nepal (Khasa Malla rule) from the 14th century. It is made of gilt copper alloy with inlay. Cast in the Khasa Malla kingdom of the western Himalayas, this sculpture is a superb example of Newar artistry without elaborate embellishments. Here we see a clear adaptation of the Kathmandu Valley style in the modeling and proportions of the figure and the treatment of the face, with a beak-like nose, downcast eyes, and pinched chin. The historical Buddha is exhibited here seated in meditation posture (vajrasana); one hand rests in the lap and the other in a gesture that calls the earth to witness his great resolve. He wears earrings inlaid with turquoise—an adornment not usually seen in depictions of the Buddha yet commonly found in Khasa Malla sculptures representing him (information from 
Dedicated to the art of the Himalayas and surrounding regions, the Rubin Museum of Art is located at 150 17th Street in Chelsea. The photographs above were made on March 25, 2011.

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