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    Gilded Cast Bronze Ava-Style Buddha

    Shan People, Eastern Burma
    17th century

    height: 30.8cm, width: 15cm



    private collection, UK.

    – scroll down to see further images –

    This finely cast bronze image shows the Buddha sitting in bhumispara (‘calling the earth to witness’) atop a high, waisted double-lotus throne.

    This style with the high, pedestal base shows influence from the Ava Kingdom, the dominant kingdom that ruled upper Burma from 1364 to 1555.

    The image has a pleasing, rounded face, earlobes that extend to the shoulders, a narrow and incised band that separates the hair from the forehead, and a rounded usnisha that is topped by an elongated lotus bud finial. The ears are elongated and delicately incised – they are those of a prince. The hairstyle is akin to neat rows of peppercorns.

    The elongated bud-like jewel to the top of the Buddha’s head is also peculiar to Burmese and Shan images and seems to have its origins in seventeenth century representations of the Buddha (Lowry, 1974).

    The ‘calling the earth to witness’ pose, refers to the occasion when the Buddha, seated in meditation under the Bodhi tree on the evening before his enlightenment, is challenged by the demon Mara to prove that he had given alms. The Buddha touched the ground with his right hand and asked the earth to bear witness to his past good deeds (Fraser-Lu & Stadtner, 2015, p. 152).

    Somkiart Lopetcharat (2007, p. 128) illustrates a related example on a similar pedestal (also with casting flaws).

    The example here, has a fine, dark patina. It has been cast on one piece. Traces of gilding are most prominent about the upper body: originally, the images was entirely gilded or covered in gold leaf. There is a casting crack to the front of the base, and casting -related loss to the back of the base at its lower edge. Overall, however, the image is well cast, has further decoration from incising or engraving, and has been cast with a particularly attractive face and impressive throne.


    Fraser-Lu, S., & D.M. Stadtner, Buddhist Art of Myanmar, Asia Society Museum, 2015.

    Karow, O., Burmese Buddhist Sculpture: The Johan Moger Collection, White Lotus, 1991.

    Lowry, J., Burmese Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1974.

    Somkiart Lopetcharat, Myanmar Buddha: The Image and its History, Siam International Books Company, 2007.

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