Period: late Anuradhapura period (750–850)
Date: late 8th century
Culture: Sri Lanka (Anuradhapura)
Medium: Copper alloy
Dimensions: H. 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm); W. 11 in. (7.9 cm); D. 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm)
Credit Line: Purchase, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift, Acquisitions and 2008 Benefit Funds, and John Stewart Kennedy Fund, by exchange, 2009
Accession Number: 2009.60
The quintessential icon of early Buddhist Sri Lanka is the Buddha gesturing vitarka-mudra, imparting his dharma to all. Seated in a meditative yogic posture, he wears the monk’s uttarasanga, an untailored length of cloth drawn tautly around the body, with his right shoulder exposed in the southern manner of Buddhism. His hair is expressed in short, tight curls to evoke his renunciation of the material world, when he cut off his hair and gave away his princely adornments. The eye sockets were inlaid with precious stones or rock crystal to add a heightened level of realism. The flame-shaped head protuberance (ushniha) is one of the principal auspicious markings (lakshanas) of Buddhahood.