Polychrome Carved Wooden Buddha
Kandyan Period, 18th-19th century
height: 25.5cm, width: 11.5cm, depth: 9cm
This fine image of the Buddha is carved from a single piece of wood and decorated in blue, orange-red and cobalt-blue pigments. The form of the image follows standard Sri Lankan iconography in the virasana meditation position with legs crossed and both hands resting on the lap in the dhyana mudra pose. The face is full, rounded and with a tranquil expression. The contours of the body are fleshy and well rounded: this is the body of a well-nourished prince.
The Buddha wears the robes of a monk – simply suggested with an orange-red outline – but has elongated ear lobes indicating his aristocratic family background. There is a flame-like cranial protuberance on the top of the head which is in a typically Sri Lankan form.
The figure sits on an hour-glass platform that has been decorated with lotus petal motifs, although much of this decoration is worn.
The decoration is simple and austere – appropriately so for a young prince who has newly sworn off material possessions.
The form, decoration and colouring of this image follows the style adopted in the Kandyan period for such images and follows that adopted in the Dambulla Caves temple complex with its 18th century decoration.
The image is robust and stable and in fine condition. There are losses to the paintwork and some old chipping to the corners of the base but all this is relatively minor given the age of the piece and the material from which is has been constructed.
Guardian of the Flame: Art of Sri Lanka, Phoenix Art Museum, 2003.
Menzies, J. (ed.),
Sacred Images of Sri Lanka, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1994.
Ridi Vihare: The Flowering of Kandayan Art, Stamford-Lake, 2006.The Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka, UNESCO Publishing, 1993.
Visions of an Island: Rare works from Sri Lanka in the Christopher Ondaatje Collection, Harper Collins, 1999.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 3684
Eighteenth century images in the Dambulla Caves, Sri Lanka, photographed in February 2011.