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With sensitive delicate modelling and subtle serene expression on its face this Buddha statue adheres to the art style, iconographic features and sensuous qualities of 10th-11th century Pala bronzes of eastern India. Pala dynasty had its rule from A.D. 750 to A.D. 1175 or 1225 and its domains extended over present day Bihar, Bengal and Bengladesh. Mathura was the most influential seat of art till pre-Pala period. A heavier kind of physiognomy derived from the Gandharan Yaksha type characterised Mathura images. Mathura influence on the art of north and east continued for quite some time even during the rule of Pala dynasty. Sarnath was another centre of Buddhist art. Sarnath's physiognomy was attenuated to the form of a Yogi which had more delicate modelling and subtler expression. Nalanda, Kurkihar, Basu Bihar and Mainamati, the last two of which are now in Bengladesh, were the important centres of image casting in Pala territories. Of these Nalanda continued to follow broad features of Mathura art though with a considerable refinement and deviation. Kurkihar, however, made a subtle departure and resorted to a more angular face, small cute lips as against quite heavy ones of Mathura, delicate figure, sharp nose and a veriety of 'pithas', or pedestals. Kurkihar images were marked by a kind of melting quality of modelling and refined plasticity and were endowed with great sensitivity, luminosity, meditative calm and warm sensuousness articulated by delicate facial expressions and heightened further by shadows cast around eyes.
This Buddha image follows Kurkihar idiom of Pala bronze-art, though it has been cast in brass instead. The meditative calm, subtle serene expression on face, small cute lips, angularity of face, sharpness of features and shaded eyes are reminiscent of Pala bronzes of Kurkihar. An exceptional kind of luminosity, spirituality and tenderness combined with as strong a sensuousness marks the physiognomy of the image. Pala bronzes showed a variety of 'pithas' to instal their images. Most of them, however, consisted of lotus in one form or the other. The simplest of them, as here, could be a single lotus supported on a simple sheet. Hair in tight curls and broad forehead are features common to various styles of Buddhist iconography. In drapery, however, the artist has incorporated Tibetan element. The rich sash over the shoulders and stomach of the image, the 'dhoti' trailing on its seat and the 'kamarabanda' around his waist have a touch of the votive iconography of Tibet.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.