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HOME : Asian Art : Art of Thailand : Rattanakosin Gilt Bronze Sculpture of Buddha Meditating on Naga
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Rattanakosin Gilt Bronze Sculpture of Buddha Meditating on Naga - PF.6245
Origin: Thailand
Circa: 19 th Century AD
Dimensions: 13.25" (33.7cm) high
Collection: Asian
Medium: Gilt Bronze

Location: United States
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After the destruction of Ayutthaya in 1767 by the Burmese, King Tak Sin the Great drove out the invaders and reunified the country, establishing a new capital at Thonburi, a strategic river port town at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River. After Tak Sin was deposed, Thong Duang was chosen as king, known as Rama I, establishing the Chakri Dynasty which continues to reign over Thailand to this day. He moved the capital across the banks of the Chao Phraya River to its present location of Bangkok. The art of this period is known as the Rattanakosin style, although it is also referred to as the Bangkok style. Naturally, Rattanakosin art carried on many of the traditions of the Ayutthayan style, thereby establishing a link with the past.

Buddhist works of art such as this beautiful bronze Buddha often have symbolic elements that relate to the very early stages in the development of this highly complex religion. Elements of nature were an integral part of the early religions of India. The roots of Buddhism formed an alliance with these ancient popular cults of the soil and nature, including nature-spirits. In this example, the bronze Buddha sits on the coiled body of a Naga, the ancient Indian spirit of water that takes the form of a cobra. The seven-headed snake forms a dramatic nimbus around the upper portion of the Buddha, framing the Buddha's expressive face. The Buddha’s distinctive tightly curled hairstyle is typical of Thai representations. A flame of enlightenment rises from the top of his ushnisa, a symbol of the Buddha’s infinite wisdom. The sculptor has masterfully molded the subtle folds of fat around his neck, again indicative of the spiritual fullness and inner peace embodied by the Buddha. The Buddha wears a robe decorated in floral motifs, a type specific to the Rattanakosin era, from the reign of Rama III onward (1824 A.D.) Overall, this exquisite sculpture beautifully memorializes one of history greatest holy figures.
- (PF.6245)


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