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Sino Tibetan Gilt Bronze
Amitayus Buddha
The Buddha of Eternal Life

Early Ming Dynasty Circa: 14th century
H 6.5 in.(16.5cm.), W 4 in. (10cm.), D 3 in. (7.5cm.)

Condition : Minor losses

An older version of Amitayus Buddha, of Chinese origins and cast in a thick bronze. Traces of green-blue malachite line the finer folds of bronze, as does a red patina, possibly cuprite, appearing in a few patches and most noticeably on the deities’ head. Perhaps the most telling indicator of the pieces’ age is its symmetrical style and the minimally ornamented face and form. Ribbons billow out from the Buddha’s arms as he sits in the virasana position (crossed legs with turned out heels) on a lotus leaf plinth. His body is sparingly and geometrically decorated with jewels stylized in an older style, resembling rounded beads.

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There is something unusual about this piece in that the large majority of Amitayus Buddhas are depicted wearing a crown. This could possibly be explained by Amitayus’ relationship to Amitabha, the Buddha from which Amitaya descended, as the two are often interchangeable with each other. Amitayus is the apparitional form of Amitabha, and thus it is not hard to see that the two iconographies could inter-mix, particularly in their earlier stages of development. What clearly designates this Buddha as Amitayus is the vase resting in his hands, said to hold the nectar of immortality.

When held upside down, one sees a thick rim around a hollow center, and the piece feels good in its heaviness. Amitayus, the Buddha of long life, sits with his young face as still as the day it was cast. A beautiful and unique piece in good condition.

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