Burmese Wooden Buddha Statue with Disciples
AGE: 19th Century
CONSTRUCTION: – Wood
HEIGHT: – Base to top of throne 71cm – Buddha sculpture Height 62.5cm
WIDTH: – 39cm
DEPTH: – 25cm
WEIGHT: – 15.35 Kg.
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19th Century-decorative Burmese Wooden Buddha Statue with Disciples and other figures related to the events in the life of the Buddha carved across the lower part of the pedestal underneath the double lotus throne. Thayo lacquer represents the hair curls and usnisha with a decorative panel of thayo lacquer on the front and edges of the robe. The Buddha is seated in the lotus position with the hands resting on the lap in Dhyana Mudra the gesture of contemplation. This statue has been gilded in more recent times.
Dhyana mudra is a sacred hand gesture that is used during yoga and meditation practice. It is one of the most common and widely practised mudras, found in various religious and spiritual traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and yoga. It helps to channel the flow of vital life force energy known as prana, deepen concentration, guide the practitioner towards inner peace and equanimity, and balance the two sides of the body and brain. It also represents the three jewels of Buddhism: Buddha, sangha and dharma, as well as the union of male and female principles.
Both hands are placed on the lap with the right hand resting on top of the left palm, both facing upwards with the thumbs lifted slightly so that the tips touch one another to form a triangular shape.
This Burmese Wooden Buddha Statue with disciples has a separate piece similar to a reredos slotted into the back of the pedestal flanked on either side at shoulder level by the head of the Pyinsa Rupa, a mythical creature in Burmese mythology. The Pyinsa Rupa is one of a myriad of mythological creatures in Burmese folklore, it is a combination of five animals: the horse, carp, dragon, elephant and buffalo. This mythological creature is the official mascot of Myanmar International Airways.
INTERPRETATION OF THE FIGURES ACROSS THE BASE
The central figures of two deer carved into the pedestal are likely representative of the first teachings of the Dharma in the deer park at Isipatana, one of the four places of pilgrimage, also known as Sarnath, located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh in India with five of his disciples kneeling in reverence to the Buddha.
The figure seated at the end on the left side of the pedestal is the earth deity known as Vasundhara seen here wringing her hair. This depiction of Vasundhara is also seen in Thai and Lao carvings and is referred to as Mae Thoranee, “mother earth”, although not exclusively associated with fertility or women. She is referred to as Wathondare or Wathondara in Myanmar.
The legend of Vasundhara is a popular folk tale in India and is depicted in Buddhist iconography and carvings. It tells the story of a young princess who was born with a special gift: she could make plants grow with her touch. She was loved by her people and the animals, but feared by the evil king who wanted to use her power for his own greed. One day, he kidnapped her and locked her in a dark dungeon, where he tried to force her to make his barren lands fertile. Vasundhara refused to obey him and instead used her gift to create a beautiful garden inside the prison.
Vasundhara also befriended a bird who brought her seeds and news from the outside world. The king was furious and ordered his soldiers to burn the garden and kill the princess. But as the flames approached, Vasundhara prayed to the gods for help. Suddenly, a thunderstorm broke out and extinguished the fire. The bird flew in and freed Vasundhara from her chains. She escaped with the help of the animals who had heard her cry. The king chased after her but was struck by lightning and fell into a deep pit. Vasundhara returned to her kingdom and was welcomed by her people with joy. She continued to use her gift to make the land green and prosperous and became known as the goddess of the earth.