Gilt bronze figure of seated Buddha

Anuradhapuram was a flourishing and important Buddhist centre and the ancient capital of Sri Lanka; it was also a centre for production of bronze casts of icons and other objects, much like Nagapattinam in the Chola empire. The site was sacked by the maritime south Indian armies of the Pandya and the Chola kingdoms, causing the capital to move to Polonnaruva in mid 11th century. Several icons like the proposed sculpture of the seated Buddha in meditation pose have been found, suggesting that they were mass-produced at several workshops for the purpose of merit making at temples or monasteries by pilgrims or for meditation at home altars. The characteristic features of this seated image of Buddha are in resemblance to the south Indian Andhra style especially of Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda. The samghati (monk's robe) thrown over the left shoulder resembles the 'wet drapery' look in vogue during the Gupta period that spread to many parts of India and Southeast Asia. This style gained strong influence beyond India, to Sri Lanka, China and Southeast Asia. Other characteristic features are the matted hair and ushnisha (protuberance) symbolized by a flame, meditation and lotus posture, stretched ear lobes and calm, inward look. This is a rare figure of Samadhi Buddha, seated in sukhasana posture, his hands in dhyana mudra, with facial features and short stocky neck based on a Sri Lankan model, crafted at a workshop in Polonnaruva period follows general characteristics of a south Indian model. The practice of inserting a ruby in the ushanisha is a continuation of the Anirudhapuram period style.

11th - 12th century, Polonnaruva Period
Sri Lanka
Object size: 42 x 48 x 47.5 cm
Accession No.
Gilt bronze
Collection of
Indian Heritage Centre