Lot 21: 19th C. Laotian Gilded Wooden Standing Buddha
November 7, 2016
Louisville, CO, USA
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Southeast Asia, Laos, ca. 18th century CE. Finely carved from a single piece of wood, an enlightened Buddha standing upon a stylized lotus bud upon an octagonal pedestal, all beautifully adorned with red lacquer and gold gilding. The Buddha is standing with hands at his sides, palms facing towards the body, a very rare mudra. A Thai monk told a friend of the gallery that this was the "listening Buddha" pose. He wears a sanghati with simple pleats and a long, central sash to the waist, presents a tranquil visage with closed eyes and a gentle smile, with characteristically elongated ears, intricately curled hair achieved via an incised cross-hatched pattern, and a pronounced flamed ushnisha which represents the spiritual intensity of the Buddha. The front side of the pedestal is inscribed with text written in Tai-Kadai, the language of Laos and Thailand. Note, the artistry and careful workmanship involved in creating this piece indicates that it may have been a cherished image from a family shrine. Robert Thurman has written, "Buddha images are like Buddhas themselves in a very real sense - as art emanation bodies - because they have the power to transform." This particular Buddha, with his serene face and timeless look, stands ready to listen. Size: 3.5" W x 16.875" H (8.9 cm x 42.9 cm)
A bit of history on Buddhism in Laos - Buddhism was introduced to Laos as early as the first millennium CE, but was not widely practiced until the late 13th century. Buddhism was established as the state religion by founder of Lane Xang (1353-1371) but the worship of animist spirits continued to predominate for centuries. By the 17th century, Buddhism had begun to be taught in schools in Laos.
Provenance: Ex-Sarkisian collection, Denver, CO acquired before 1960
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Condition Report: Expected surface wear, tiny nick to tip of flame ushnish, and minor paint/gilding losses as shown.