Votive Plaque: Seated Buddha in a Temple, ca. 9th–10th century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Gift of The Kronos Collections, 1982 (1982.462.6) | Molded images were produced at the great pilgrimage sites and had relic status for devotees. Here, the Buddha sits within a temple that looks very much like the Mahabodhi temple at Bodhgaya. #Buddhism
GANDHARA Gilt bronze Buddha statue dated by an inscription on the base to 338 CE. This is the earliest known dated Buddha image made in China and, according to the museum, appears in almost every major publication on early Chinese Buddhist sculpture. Its style is influenced by that of the Gandhara region (parts of modern-day Pakistan, Afghanistan and NW India), which traveled along the Silk Road to China.
Buddha with a topknot. Gandhara was the region that lies between N.W Pakistan and E. Afghanistan. first mentioned in a text in the 9th C. BCE. Over the next 900 years the region was conquered by Alexander the Great, the Indian Mauryan dynasty, the Parthians, the Indo-Greeks, and finally the Central Asian Kushan Empire. This complex history, with its many cultural influences, formed the foundation for a region where Buddhism flourished and the basis for some of the earlier images of Buddha.
Mahapratisara, the Buddhist Protectress, 10th century. India (Bihar). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Purchase, Florence and Herbert Irving Gift, 1991 (1991.108) | Female bodhisattvas like this Tara were becoming increasingly important to the Buddhist communities of North India. In her lower left hand she holds a palm leaf manuscript suggesting she may have been understood as a manifestation of this text or the very embodiment of Buddhist ideology. #Buddhism
Most significant is the central Buddha touching the earth at the moment of his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya, indicated by the branches above his head. Surrounding him are scenes of his life, each one associated with a north Indian pilgrimage center
Votive Plaque (Tsa Tsa) with a Stupa, 10th–11th century. Tibet. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Purchase, Rogers Fund, by exchange, 2011 (2011.43) | This molded clay votive plaque (“tsa tsa”) from Tibet presents a stepped stupa similar to those of north India. The “ye dharma” inscription in the background caries core the meaning of the Buddha’s teachings. This status as the Buddha’s “dharma body” gives this plaque a very real relic significance. #Buddhism
Seated Buddha Reaching Enlightenment, Flanked by Avalokitesvara and Maitreya, late 10th–11th century. India, Bihar, Nalanda monastery. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Rogers Fund, 1920 (20.58.16) | This delicately-carved Buddha from Nalanda is shown siting in a yogic posture, deep in meditation, at the very moment of his enlightenment. His right hand reaching down to touch the earth, bearing witness to the past actions that brought him to this point of ultimate realization…