Overall: 8.2 x 6.1 cm (3 1/4 x 2 3/8 in.)
Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1965.27
Text and Image in Southern Asia (Indian Painting and Himalayan rotation)
Kaolinite is a mineral that is actually a type of clay.
Carved in a soft stone that approximates ivory, the central image of the historical Buddha at the moment of his enlightenment is surrounded by scenes from his own life, including his death at the top. The scenes are arranged not strictly chronologically, but aesthetically, such that the scenes where he is standing or seated are paired.
A prayer written in a 12th-century Newari script indicates that this Indian sculpture was taken to Nepal. Buddhist travelers brought easily transportable personal devotional sculptures out of India to the Himalayas, where they served as models for local artists. Such works were valued abroad for their proximity to the source of Buddhism, founded in India during the 400s BC.
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