2581

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Thai Crowned Head of Buddha

Thailand
late 16th century

height: 8.8cm (without stand), 11.9cm (with stand)

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Provenance

UK art market

This fine, small head of a Buddha image cast in bronze shows the Buddha as a young man and a prince. He wears a tall crown and has the long ear lobs and earrings associated with a prince of the period.

The face is cast with a benevolent expression. The eyes are closed, the lips are pursed – perhaps with a slight smile. The chin is round. The eye brows are joined to be one, long undulating line across the lower forehead. The crown has a central spike and two smaller ones to either side.

The clearest attribute of this head is its age: it has a superb patina. It is also clearly from a more complete statue. Many Thai Buddha heads have been cast as heads – they were not intended to be attached to anything and are made purely for the Western decorative market. But this example has clear age.

The break about the neck is old and serves as a reminder of the influence of Brahmanic liturgical prescriptions which so influenced Thai Buddhism and which decreed that damaged religious images are not suitable for use as objects of devotion (Bennett, 2011, p. 140).

The head is mounted on a custom-made wooden stand.

References

Bennett J., Beneath the Winds: Masterpieces of Southeast Asian Art in the Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, 2011.

Woodward, H.W., The Sacred Sculpture of Thailand: The Alexander B. Griswold Collection – The Walters Art Gallery, Thames & Hudson, 1997.

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