In this sculpture, the Buddha’s right hand is in the bhumisparsha (earth-touching) mudra and his left hand is in the dhyana (meditation) mudra.
At the age of thirty-five, on the night of a full moon, Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment. As he was alone with no one to witness this momentous event, he called the Earth itself to be his witness by touching the ground with his right hand in a gesture known as the Bhumisparsa mudra.
In his left hand he holds a begging or alms bowl, symbolizing renunciation. He is represented with extended earlobes, now empty of adornment, but which were once stretched out of shape by the weight of the costly jewelry he wore before renouncing his princely status.
In Mahayana Buddhist art, the Buddha is typically represented as a young, ideally proportioned man dressed in simple monk's robes. But he is distinguished from ordinary humans by thirty-two sacred identifying features, or Lakshana. Among the most frequently observed are the Ushnisha, a cranial bump on the head symbolizing wisdom, and the Urna, a curl of hair between his eyebrows. These can be observed in this artwork.
This sculpture is made of copper through the lost wax process. In this process the figure is initially sculpted in wax over a compact core. It is then carefully covered with clay and then with a heat resistant clay. Molten metal is poured in through openings to the inside of the mold and takes the place of the wax, which melts and flows out through vent holes. After completion of the casting process, the statue is gilded (the art of applying gold) to the faces of the deity. In this process the face is brushed with cold gold, after which the hair is painted with blue color.
The practice of painting statues, particularly faces, with gold paint is exclusively Tibetan and Nepali.
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