Himachal Pradesh, buddha on tortoise pedestal

11th century circa, Himachal Pradesh or Kashmir, Shakyamuni, brass, photo by Bonhams.

11th century circa, Himachal Pradesh or Kashmir, Shakyamuni, brass, photo by Bonhams.

This buddha’s muscly chest and body proportions and the mandorla behind him recall the Kashmiri style, but he doesn’t have the corresponding cruciform navel and lobed abdomen, only a small hole punched into the metal. His tight-fitting garments incised with stripes and the lotus base with flat pointed petals on which he stands are typical of Himachal Pradesh, while the tortoise-shaped pedestal  is a feature proper to Northeast India. The way his meditation cloak is pleated and its hem decorated is highly original, and so is the way his head is connected with a piece of metal to the lotus-bud finial on the nimbus attached to his shoulders. He holds his right hand in the fear-allaying gesture or abhaya mudra and his left hand in the gesture of generosity or varada mudra while also grasping one end of his garment as is customary in such images of the historical buddha.

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