Buddha Vairocana (Dari)

Period: Liao dynasty (907–1125)

Date: 11th century

Culture: China

Medium: Gilt bronze; lost-wax cast

Dimensions: H. 8 5/8 in. (21.9 cm); W. 4 3/8 in. (11.1 cm); D. 4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm); Diam. of base 3 3/4 in. (9.5 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2006

Accession Number: 2006.284


This Buddha holds his hands in a “wisdom fist,” a gesture in which the left hand grasps the index finger of the right hand. This identifies him as Vairocana, one of the many celestial, or transcendent, Buddhas who were particularly important in China from the sixth through tenth centuries. Vairocana often makes this gesture when he is depicted at the center of the Womb World Mandala, and it is possible that this beautifully cast sculpture was once part of a larger grouping of images arranged as a mandala, or cosmic diagram.