Rare Bronze Eight Scene Buddhist Stele
AGE: 10th – 12th Century
DEPTH: 4cm to 6cm
WEIGHT: 9.85 kg.
#125 – PRICE: CONTACT
Extremely Rare Bronze Eight Scene Buddhist Stele from Burma showing scenes related to the eight great events in the life of the Buddha and seven weeks after his enlightenment.
We believe this stele is possibly an earlier version of the more traditional Burmese Andagu stone stele depicting the eight scenes, the andagu stone carvings were much lighter in weight and easier to carry on pilgrimages. The weight of this stele would make it highly unlikely that it was an object easily carried on a pilgrimage.
The scenes in this bronze Buddhist stele appear to us to be more more Indianized in their presentation compared to the traditional Burmese Andagu stone eight scene stele that has been found in Myanmar dating to the Pagan era from the 11th to 12th century. This rare bronze Eight Scene Buddhist stele also depicts scenes related to the seven weeks after the Buddha’s enlightenment.
Eight Main Events in the life of the Buddha
These scenes are based on ancient texts and traditions that narrate the Buddha’s life story, and they are often depicted in Buddhist art as a way of honoring his teachings and example.
The eight scenes are:
- The Birth of the Buddha: The Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha Gautama in Lumbini, a grove of sal trees near the border of Nepal and India. His mother, Queen Maya, gave birth to him while standing and holding a branch of a sal tree. Four heavenly beings received him on a golden net and announced his auspicious birth to his mother.
- The Enlightenment of the Buddha: After leaving his palace and renouncing his worldly life, the Buddha practiced various forms of meditation and asceticism for six years, seeking the truth about suffering and liberation. He finally sat under a bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya and vowed not to rise until he attained enlightenment. He faced the attacks of Mara, the demon of temptation and illusion, who tried to distract him from his goal. He overcame Mara’s challenges by touching the earth as his witness and achieved perfect wisdom and compassion.
- The First Sermon of the Buddha: The Buddha travelled to Sarnath, near Varanasi, where he met his five former companions who had followed him in his ascetic practices. He taught them the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, the core teachings of Buddhism, which explain the nature and cause of suffering, and the way to end it. This was his first sermon, also known as the Turning of the Wheel of Dharma.
- The Monkey’s Offering of Honey: The Buddha spent many years wandering and teaching in different places. One day, he was staying in a forest near Vaishali, where he was visited by a monkey and an elephant who offered him fruits and flowers. The monkey wanted to give something more special to the Buddha, so he climbed a tree to get some honey from a beehive. He brought the honeycomb to the Buddha, but he was stung by the bees and fell down dead. The Buddha accepted his offering and praised his generosity. He then revived him with his miraculous power and ordained him as a monk.
- The Taming of Nalagiri the Elephant: The Buddha had many followers, but also some enemies who wanted to harm him. One of them was his cousin Devadatta, who was jealous of his fame and influence. Devadatta plotted to kill the Buddha by letting loose a fierce elephant named Nalagiri on the road where the Buddha was walking. However, when Nalagiri saw the Buddha, he was calmed by his radiance and gentleness. The Buddha touched his trunk and spoke to him kindly, taming him completely. The people who witnessed this scene were amazed and praised the Buddha’s power.
- The Descent from Tavatimsa Heaven: The Buddha spent three months in Tavatimsa Heaven, one of the celestial realms, where he taught his mother who had died shortly after his birth. He also taught many gods and goddesses who were eager to hear his teachings. He then decided to return to earth to continue his mission. He descended from heaven on a ladder made of jewels, accompanied by two other gods who held parasols over his head. He landed in Sankasya, where he was welcomed by a large crowd of humans and animals who had gathered to see him.
- The Miracle at Sravasti: The Buddha performed many miracles during his life, but one of the most famous ones happened in Sravasti, where he was challenged by some rival teachers who claimed to have superior doctrines and powers. The Buddha accepted their challenge and displayed his miraculous abilities in front of thousands of spectators. He created multiple images of himself, emitted fire and water from his body, levitated in the air, and illuminated the sky with his light. He also preached his teachings to different audiences simultaneously. His opponents were defeated and humbled, while many people were converted to Buddhism.
- The Parinirvana of the Buddha: The Buddha passed away at the age of 80 in Kushinagar, surrounded by his disciples and followers. He lay down on his right side between two sal trees that bloomed out of season. He gave his final instructions to his monks and encouraged them to be diligent in their practice. He then entered into a series of meditative absorptions that led him to nirvana, the state of ultimate peace and freedom from suffering. His body was cremated and his relics were distributed among different kingdoms that honored him with stupas.
The scenes in this rare bronze eight scene stele Buddhist illustrate his remarkable journey from birth to death, from ignorance to enlightenment, from suffering to liberation.
To learn more about the scenes on this bronze stele