Buddha Dispelling Fear [Object of the Day #49]

August 23, 2012

Buddha Standing and Dispelling Fear
16th Century Bronze Buddha Sculpture
This sculpture from the 16 century, from Thailand, shows a standing Buddha. He stands very straight, in the center of a lotus throne and is draped in a transparent robe and sarong-like undergarment. His body is shown with large, square shoulders and a chiseled waist line which, taken allegorically, makes a connection between his physical firmness and his religious or personal commitments.
His face expresses his serenity as it is relaxed and his earlobes are distended which, some believe to be a visual symbol of the wealth he possessed as a prince. Notable is the jewel that is set in a protuberance from the top of his skull, referred to as a ushnishu (usnīsa).
The sculptor took great care to display his hands with delicate and gentle curves. Each finger is delineated yet held closely together. While his right arm is straight at his side, his left arm is bent at the elbow with the palm facing out, towards his viewers. This is a gesture often called an abhaya mudra or dispelling fear gesture.
Penn Museum Object 43-12-2.

See this and other objects like it on Penn Museum’s Online Collection Database.