Shakyamuni Buddha (Nepal 12th century)
The Buddha who is the founder of the Buddhist religion is called Buddha Shakyamuni “Shakya” is the name of the royal family into which he was born, and “Muni” means “Able One.” Buddha Shakyamuni was born as a royal prince in 624 BC in a place called Lumbini, in what is now Nepal. His mother’s name was Queen Mayadevi and his father’s name was King Shuddhodana.
This superb example of Nepalese metalcraft depicts the historical Buddha in his most typical pose, seated in meditation, one hand in his lap, the other pendant in the earth-witness gesture. In keeping with traditional representations, this Buddha has a cranial protuberance (ushnisha) signifying supernatural wisdom and a mark between the eyes (urna), signifying spiritual illumination. His distinctive coiffure represents the curls which grew back after he cut off his long, princely locks with his sword. The curl-covered ushnisha is also surmounted by a knob representing a symbolic jewel (cudamani). As an unusual feature, the sumptuous earrings the Buddha wore as the prince Siddhartha Gautama have been restored to him here, and although he wears a monk's robe its decorative borders are more in keeping with princely raiment.