Dry lacquer Buddha

This seated Buddha, which is of good condition, is made of wood, preserved in lacquer and decorated with gold leaf. He sits with the soles of his feet in his lap, with his left hand in dhyanamudra (meditation), and the right hand in bhumisparsamudra (touching the earth). The fingers are exaggeratedly long. The robe on the chest is plain, but over the legs forms rippling drapery. The face is rectangular and indicates influence from the medieval style developed at Pagan. The eyebrows are stylized and almost form an ‘L’-shaped outline. An inscription around the base reads in English ‘Sitting Budh or Buddha. A Burmese Idol’. It has been suggested that this was inscribed after the sculpture reached Exeter (Isaacs 2000:130).

The donor of the piece was Captain Truscott of the East India Company Army who acquired it during the 1st Anglo-Burmese War (1824-6).

Although a date of late 18th/early 19th century has been suggested, an exact provenance is unknown (Isaacs 2000:130). The piece is significant to the collection and has been documented in ‘Vision from the Golden Land, Burma and the Art of Lacquer’ (Isaacs 2000:130). There is almost an exact copy currently in the British Museum.

H.1350 x W.1100 x DP. 600mm.
Accession Loan No.
Simple Name
Full Name
Buddha (hpaya)
Common Name
dry lacquer Buddha
Production Country
Myanmar (Burma)
dry lacquer; bamboo; gold leaf
Period Classification
Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1885)
Collection Class
Religion and magic
Collection Contintent
Collection Area Region
Production County
Production Area Region
South-East Asia
Production Continent
Production Year Low
Production Year High
Family Group

Function Detail
A hollow lacquer sculpture which depicts a serene looking Buddha with a tall cranial protruberance (ushnisha), sitting cross-legged (padmasana) in the lotus posture. His right hand is in the earth-witness gesture (bhumisparshamudra) and his left hand is in meditation (dhyanamudra). His long earlobes and long fingers are signs of his enlightenment. He wears a simple robe and sits on a base of lotus petals. The face is somewhat triangular in shape and reflects the medieval style developed at Pagan. The right hand gesture represents a specific point in the Buddha’s life. The depiction of the middle finger touching the earth is common and reflects a moment when the Buddha responds to the devil Mara’s challenge to his right to enlightenment. The Buddha calls upon Mother Earth herself to bear witness to his long evolutionary struggle, over billions of lifetimes, to come to this moment. The Shakyamuni Buddha is the Buddha of our historical period. A Buddha is a being, both human and divine, male or female, who has become awakened from the sleep of ignorance and has purified all evil. A being uses their power and compassion for the benefit of all. A Buddha is a form of life that has achieved the highest evolutionary perfection possible. Presented to the Devon & Exeter Institution by Captain George Truscott (possibly the same Captain Truscott of the East India Company Army) shortly after the First Anglo-Burmese War. Transferred to the Museum in 1873.
whole height 1350 mm; whole width 1100 mm; whole depth 600 mm
Created At
2016-10-13 15:46:18
Updated At
2020-01-28 11:43:26

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