The story of Buddhist sculptures begins with Ashoka. The most popular of all the Mortal Buddhas is Gautama, who is most widely represented in Indian Buddhist art. While the early Buddhist artists used symbols to represent the presence of the Buddha, he was represented in human form with the spread of Mahayana. In the shrines he is mostly seen in the attitude of meditation or teaching.
Moulded in brass, this image of Buddha represents him in the attitude of driving the wheel of 'Righteousness'. To set the wheel in motion in Buddhist language means 'to preach the order of things.' Iconography seized upon this significant imagery.
This posture is symbolic of the preaching of the first sermon, the 'Dharmachakra-parivartana'. In this hand gesture, both the hands are held near the breast. The tips of the index finger and the thumb are joint and they touch one of the fingers of the left hand, the palm being turned inwards.
This form of Buddha seated on a lotus seat with his feet resting on a smaller lotus stool is clearly influenced by foreign art. The iconography, however, is strictly Indian. The position of the figure, the treatment of the body etc. is clearly derived from Roman models. The halo behind the Buddha's head and the prabhavali behind the lotus seat are beautiful in its simplicity.
All said and done, the delicate face needs a special mention. It has a gentle, graceful and compassionate look about it, which speaks volumes about the personality of the Buddha.
This description by Renu Rana.
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