Buddha Shakyamuni
9th century
Asia: Thailand, Phetchabun, Si Thep
On View

Having once stood more than nine feet (three meters) tall, this sculpture of the Buddha Shakyamuni testifies to the great reverence shown to Buddhism by the Mons during the Dvaravati period (6th–11th centuries). Colossal images of this type, dating to such an early period, are rare in Southeast Asia.

In its original state, this Buddha would have been displayed in a temple adorned with a precious gem in between his eyebrows, now an exposed cavity. This mark, called an urna, distinguishes the Buddha from the mundane and serves as a symbol of an enlightened being. The arms of this sculpture would have been bent at the elbows, with both hands extended into space and the thumb and index finger of each touching to form the gesture of teaching (vitarkamudra). The double vitarkamudra is a hallmark of Dvaravati-period Buddha sculptures.


  • Title: Buddha Shakyamuni
  • Date: 9th century
  • Medium: Sandstone
  • Dimensions: 88 x 28 x 13 in. (223.52 x 71.12 x 33.02 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1972.40.1.S
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

  • Lerner, Martin, The Connoisseur, fig. 9 pp. 200-202
  • Pal, Pratapaditya, Marg, figs. 22-23 pp. 74-77
  • Knoke, Christine, Minerva, fig. 1 p. 26
  • Pal, Pratapaditya, Asian Art: Selections from the Norton Simon Museum, fig. 7 pp. 64-65
  • Czuma, Stanislaw, The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, 1980, fig. 4, fig. 11 pp. 229, 231, 235, 237-239
  • Pal, Pratapaditya, American Collectors of Asian Art, 1986, figs. 22-23 pp. 138 - 139
  • Pal, Pratapaditya, Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum, Volume 3: Art from Sri Lanka & Southeast Asia, 2004, fig. 1, no. 104 pp. 102-104, 136, 139-141
  • McArthur, Meher, The Arts of Asia: A Guide to the Materials, Techniques and Styles, 2005, p. 235
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 851 p. 345
  • Lost Kingdoms: Hindu Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, 2014, n. 4 p. 280
  • Meher McArthur, Highlights of Buddhist Art at the Norton Simon Museum, 2018,
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