Buddha Shakyamuni with His Life Events

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India, Asia

Medieval Period

c. Late 9th - early 10th century


11 1/4 × 7 1/4 × 2 1/2 inches (28.6 × 18.4 × 6.4 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the George W.B. Taylor Fund, 1921

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In sculpture created during the rule of the Pala dynasty (eighth through twelfth century), the eight pivotal life events of the historical Buddha were usually illustrated by each event being reduced to its most essential elements. In this image, the central Buddha sits with his hands folded in the gesture of meditation (dhyanamudra), probably indicating the episode in which he receives a bowl of honey from a devoted monkey. Clockwise from the bottom left the other events implied are: the birth of the Buddha; the taming of the wild elephant Nalagiri; the enlightenment; the death (parinirvana); the first sermon; the descent from the heaven where the Buddha preached to his dead mother; and the display of supernatural powers.