Gilded Sculpture of Seated Shakyamuni
Seated Shakyamuni, sculpture in lacquered and gilded wood, Burma,serene expression, sketching a slight smile, right hand adopting the bhumisparsa mudra, his robe covering both shoulders, seated on a stepped pedestal adorned with geometric patterns, with inscription on the front and cavity on the back.
A Lacquered and Gilded Wood Sculpture of Seated Shakyamuni – Burma – Konbaung dynasty (1752 – 1885)
Buddha Burma, 18th century
In solid teak, lacquered and gilded
Provenance: Old Swiss private collection since 1970’s
This sculpture was the subject of an expert appraisal by Jean Eracle (Research Officer
for the Department of Asia at the Museum of Ethnography from Geneva), dated June 23, 1975. A copy of the expertise accompanies this lot.
Condition: Excellent condition with old wear, minor flaking to gilt, small losses, natural age cracks, minor nicks, ushnisha missing. Overall, as expected, and commensurate with age and size.
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Buddhism, specifically Theravāda Buddhism, is the State religion of Myanmar since 1961, and practiced by nearly 90% of the population. It is the most religious Buddhist country in terms of the proportion of monks in the population and proportion of income spent on religion. Adherents are most likely found among the dominant Bamar people, Shan, Rakhine, Mon, Karen, and Chinese who are well integrated into Burmese society. Monks, collectively known as the sangha (community), are venerated members of Burmese society. Among many ethnic groups in Myanmar, including the Bamar and Shan, Theravada Buddhism is practiced in conjunction with the worship of nats, which are spirits who can intercede in worldly affairs.
Regarding the practice of Buddhism, two popular practices stand out: merit-making and vipassanā meditation. There is also the less popular weizza path. Merit-making is the most common path undertaken by Burmese Buddhists. This path involves the observance of the Five precepts and accumulation of good merit through charity (dana, often to monks) and good deeds to obtain a favorable rebirth. The meditation path, which has gained ground since the early 1900s, is a form of Buddhist meditation which is seen as leading to awakening and can involve intense meditation retreats. The weizza path is an esoteric system of occult practices (such as recitation of spells, samatha and alchemy) believed to lead to life as a weizza (Burmese: ဝိဇ္ဇာ Pali: vijjā), a semi-immortal and supernatural being who awaits the appearance of the future Buddha, Maitreya (Arimeitaya).