Seated Buddha

India. Pala Period, 10th century
Black stone
2001.1.7
Ester R. Portnow Collection of Asian Art, a Gift of the Nathan Rubin-Ida Ladd Family Foundation

The Pala Kingdom flourished in Bihar and Bengal provinces in northeast India from the eighth to the twelfth centuries. Serving as a great patron of monastic and pilgrimage centers, the Pala dynasty witnessed the last flourishing of Buddhist religion in India. Due to the travels of pilgrims and monks, Pala art influenced the styles of Tibet and Indonesia as well.

This remarkably simple and elegant Buddha is an excellent example of Pala period Buddhist art. Here, the Buddha is touching the earth, calling upon the earth goddess as witness to his ability to attain enlightenment. The tree above his halo is a branch of the Bodhi tree, under which he reached the final stages of spiritual advancement. His throne is a typical "lion's throne", with two lions and an elephant decorating its base.