Scenes from the life of the Buddha


Historical period(s)
Kushan dynasty, late 2nd-early 3rd century
H x W x D: 67 x 289.8 x 9.8 cm (26 3/8 x 114 1/8 x 3 7/8 in)
Pakistan or Afghanistan
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 02: Body Image: Arts of the Indian Subcontinent
Sculpture, Stone

Buddhist frieze

Afghanistan, birth, bodhi tree, Buddha, Buddhism, enlightenment, Kushan dynasty (1st century BCE - 299 CE), monk, Pakistan, parinirvana, preaching, Queen Maya, worship, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Hagop Kevorkian 1872 - 1962


After meditating for forty days beneath a pipal tree, the Buddha approached the moment of omniscience. Evil demons have failed to distract him, and he calmly touches the earth goddess to witness his attainment of enlightenment. His right hand, lowered in the earth-touching gesture (bhumisparsha mudra), signals that moment. The Buddha is depicted with the characteristic forehead mole (urna) and cranial bump (ushnisha) that symbolize his immense spiritual capacity.

Published References
  • Aschwin Lippe. The Freer Indian Sculptures. Oriental Studies Series, no. 8 Washington, 1970. pl.8, 11, 14, 16.
  • Thomas Lawton Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. p. 163, fig. 1.
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 96-99.
  • Francesco Abbate. Arte dell'Inde e dell'Indonesia. Milan. p. 24.
  • Anne Bancroft. Religions of the East. New York. pp. 75, 104.
  • Phillip E. Bishop. Adventures in the Human Spirit., 5th Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ. pp. 92-93, fig. 4.29.
  • Baruch S. Blumberg. Goitre in Gandhara. vol. 12, no. 4, Winter 1966. p. 242.
  • Calendar of Exhibitions. vol. 16, no. 7 Hong Kong, July 1985. p. 56.
  • Capolavori nei secoli: Enciclopedia di tutte i popoli in tutti i tempi. 12 vols., Milan, 1961 - 1964. p. 172.
  • W. Aubrey Cartwright. Guide to Art Museums in the United States: East Coast, Washington to Miami., 1st ed. New York. p. 35.
  • Vidya Dehejia. Stupas and Sculptures of Early Buddhism. vol. 2, no. 3 New York, Summer 1989. .
  • Will Deming. Rethinking Religion: A Concise Introduction. New York. p. 40.
  • W.J. Duiker J.J. Spielvogel. The Essential World History., 2nd edition. pp. 26, 37.
  • Eternal Images of Sakyamuni: Two Gilt-Bronze Korean National Treasures. Seoul. .
  • Susan L. Huntington John C. Huntington. The Art of Ancient India: Buddhist, Hindu, Jain., 1st edition. New York. p. 143.
  • Veronica Ions. Indian Mythology. London. pp. 132-133.
  • India and Greece: Connections and Parallels. Bombay. p. 2.
  • Isao Kurita. The Life Story of Buddha. .
  • Jonathan Mark Kenoyer Kimberley Heuston. The Ancient South Asian World. The World In Ancient Times London. p. 2.
  • Lawrence S. Cunningham John J. Reich. Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities. 6th edition, Belmont, CA. fig. 5.2.
  • Jung Hee Lee. The Contemplating Bodhisattva Images of Asia, with Special Emphasis on China and Korea. Ann Arbor. pl. 5.
  • Miranda Shaw. Buddhist Goddesses of India. Princeton. p. 48.
  • Ratan Parimoo Kanak Publications. The Life of Buddha in Indian Sculpture, Ashta-maha-pratiharya: An Iconological Analysis. New Delhi. fig. 38.
  • Edwards Park. Treasures from the Smithsonian Institution., 1st ed. Washington and New York. pp. 348-49.
  • John M. Rosenfield. The Dynastic Arts of the Kushans. California Studies in the History of Art, no. 6 Berkeley. pls. 81-82.
  • E. Dale Saunders. Mudra: A Study of Symbolic Gestures in Japanese Buddhist Sculpture. Bollingen Series, no. 58 New York. pl. 2.
  • Dietrich Seckel, Helmut Brinker, John M. Rosenfield. Before and Beyond the Image: Aniconic Symbolism in Buddhist Art. no. 48 Zurich. fig. 54b.
  • Treasure House of the Middle East. vol. 8, no. 19 Beirut, May 9, 1957. p. 11.
  • Sonya S. Lee. Surviving Nirvana: Death of the Buddha in Chinese Visual Culture. Hong Kong. pp. 14-15, figs. 1.4, 1.5.
  • Sekai bijutsu zenshu (A Complete Collection of World Art). 40 vols., Tokyo, F1951-1953. pl. 85a-b.
  • .
  • cover, pp. 28-31.
  • p. 128, p. 142, fig. 12, fig. 14.
  • p. 62, fig. 18.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum