The most remarkable feature of the Buddha’s hieratic sitting figure is its ethnographic flavour. He is seated on an intricately-shaped throne, flanked on either side by a pair of stylized elephants, with a high backrest resembling a broken wheel of Samsāra. His luxurious, richly-decorated apparel leaves no doubt as to his Indian origin, as it is usually understood in European culture. The Buddha’s appearance and hair, the moulding of his face recall the famed traditions of Gandharan sculpture of the period when the main iconographies of deities from the Buddhist pantheon were formed. The air of detachment agrees well with the Buddha’s characteristic state of “enlightenment”, and in this context, it is not very important whether the creature featured is Siddhārtha Gautama (Śākyamuni), most often associated with Buddha’s name, or a generic character who has attained nirvana and set himself free from further reincarnations. The emphasis is on the symbolical and allegorical aspect, which helps to locate, through dramatic effort and purification, the point of contact between the existentially mundane and the surreally absolute. In contrast to the vibrancy of the modelling, the dematerializing capabilities of ornamental lines, symmetry, and static composition predispose towards a soothing smoothness of rhythms, and work to ensure the desired impression.


Brief annotations to the image

BUDDHA, in Buddhism, is the name of a person who has accumulated a positive karma, comprehended the causalities of existence, and thus broken free from its bonds and the chain of further reincarnations and attained Nirvana. The attainment of “enlightenment” is not the only divine case. Thus, the succession of Buddhas proceeds from the distant past to the indefinite future. However, most often the word Buddha refers to Siddhārtha Gautama (circa 623-543 BC), known under his religious name Śākyamuni and considered the founder of Buddhist religion.