Clay Votive Plaque (Tsa-Tsa) of the Buddha
circa 18th-19th century
height: 5.6cm, width: 3.2cm, thickness: 1.5cm
This devotional votive plaque or tsa-tsa was made by pressing clay into a metal reverse-mould after which it was fired. It shows the Buddha, seated and with what is likely to be a vase of healing nectar before him. In his right hand he appears to be holding the seed of the myrobalan plant, an important ingredient used in Tibetan medicine. As such, this version of the Buddha often is referred to as the Medicine Buddha, and is the manifestation of the healing energy of all enlightened beings.
Such tablets were acquired by Buddhist devotees and pilgrims as acts of merit, often at religious sites, as mementos and talismanic or protective keepsakes. The plaques often were made in one location and carried by pilgrims to be left at a site in another location, perhaps in a cave or at an important shrine. According to Proser (2010, p. 167), the practice of spreading
tsa-tsa offerings throughout the landscape can be likened to sowing seeds of potential spiritual merit, somewhat akin to laying out ‘fields of Buddhas’ throughout the world.
The example here has obvious age and patina and is in a fine, stable condition.
Proser, A., (ed.), Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art, Asia Society Museum/Yale University Press, 2010.
Inventory no.: 4441