A black stone stele of Buddha, Pala Period, Northeastern India, 10th Century
Lot 190
A black stone stele of Buddha Shakyamuni Northeastern India, Pala period, 11-12th Century
£15,000 - 20,000
US$ 25,000 - 34,000
Auction Details
A black stone stele of Buddha Shakyamuni, Northeastern India, Pala period, 11-12th Century
Lot Details
A black stone stele of Buddha Shakyamuni
Northeastern India, Pala period, 11-12th Century
seated in vajrasana on a double-lotus pedestal atop a base decorated with lions, his left hand in dhyanamudra and right hand in bhumisparshamudra, wearing a diaphanous robe in delicate pleats draped over his left arm leaving the right shoulder bare, his face in a contemplative expression, with long ear lobes, hair and ushnisha arranged in circular rows, a halo encircling the Shakyamuni's head with two stupas shown to either side of the halo; attended by the standing bodhisattvas Avalokiteshava and Maitreya and two seated ones above, the female figure possibly represents the earth goddess Prithvi, with scenes from the life of Buddha including his death, Parinirvana at the top and seated holding an alms bowl on the bottom right, inscription to reverse
31cm. high


  • During the Pala-Sena period (8th to 12th century), Buddhism thrived in Bihar and Bengal in northeast India. According to inscriptions and monks' journals, the Pala kings established Buddhist monasteries as well as supporting Hindu temples. The region has a strong tradition of Shakyamuni imagery. When the Buddha Shakyamuni attained enlightenment, he called the earth to witness his resolve by placing his hand pointing downward (bhumisparsha mudra. This scene will occasionally include an image below him of the earth goddess, Prithvi, wringing the ocean of his merit from her long hair.

    Pala and Sena sculpture consists primarily of steles, such as this one, which were set into niches in a larger building. Approximately eighty extant dated images have allowed art historians the means to establish a chronology for the work.

    An example is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Helen and Alice Colburn Fund Accession number: 24.153).
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