This fine and rare example of the Buddha Shakyamuni with a pair of kneeling disciples – probably the two chief disciples Sariputta and Moggallana – and a recumbent, kneeling elephant, dates to 17th century Burma, and possibly slightly earlier.
The form is not often encountered with the kneeling disciples and when it is, often the disciples which have been cast separately and are not fixed to the main image often are lost.
The formulation with a recumbent elephant is unusual and what is particularly rare is that each disciple kneels on the head of a demonic dwarf. We have not seen the dwarf element before.
The Buddha is clad in simple robes. The head is cast with tight curls and a plain crowning bud above the ushnisha and the elongated ears almost touch the shoulders. The neck is short and is set with three crease lines. The shoulders are round and full.
The back of the throne has a lug suggesting that the images might at one stage have been fitted with a protective canny, but like almost all other extant examples this no linger is present.
A related but slightly earlier example of this form is illustrated in Proser (2010, p. 41). Another example is illustrated in Fraser-Lu & Stadtner (2015, p. 157).
Compare also a much later example that is lot 3086 in Bonham’s New York sale, ‘Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asia Art’, March 19, 2018.
The figure is in fine condition. It has a dark, varying patina and encrustation about the crevices. There are no losses and no repairs. It is a fine, unusual example and the presence of the dwarf figures makes this image particularly rare.
Fraser-Lu, S., & D.M. Stadtner, Buddhist Art of Myanmar, Asia Society Museum, 2015.
Proser, A., (ed.), Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art,Asia Society Museum/Yale University Press, 2010.
Somkiart Lopetcharat, Myanmar Buddha: The Image and its History, Siam International Books Company, 2007.