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The Buddha triumphing over Mara

The main figure in this stone sculpture from the 900s shows many characteristic features of images of the Buddha. Here we see elements that tell us we're in the presence of the Buddha as he was on the threshold of achieving enlightenment. Above his head are branches of heart-shaped leaves. They indicate the sacred bodhi tree, under which he is said to have attained enlightenment some 2,500 years ago. Learn more about this artwork on the education.asianart.org. Created by Asian Art Museum.

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Video transcript

this 10th century stone sculpture features an image of the Buddha rendered in exquisite detail the array of heart-shaped leaves and branches at the top of the object represent the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha to be sits in meditation on the threshold of enlightenment the sculptor imbued this Buddha image with both humanity using details like the softly rounded belly and spirituality there are many signs pointing to the Buddha to Bea's special qualities curator Forest McGill he has a lump on the top of his head and that symbolizes his extra insight and then on the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet he has special symbols and both are marks of a special kind of a being who's more advanced more powerful than a regular human being he's actually sitting on a throne here there's a crossbar and uprights that make up the throne with a pair of mythical creatures on each side and then what he's touching with his right hand is the base of the throne but we understand that symbolically to be touching the earth below him there's a lion and the lion is facing its head-on and has this very powerful upper body and the Buddha image too has this very powerful upper body a lion like torso showing his spiritual power and accomplishment the face relays a combination of emotions from serenity to strength and perhaps sadness reflecting the Buddha to Bea's realization that life is full of suffering in the large halo above and behind the figures head a statement appears in sanskrit it reads the buddha has explained the cause of all things that arise from a cause he the great monk has also explained their cessation it gives this fundamental statement of Buddhism and infuses the actual Buddha image with the message of the Buddha the Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment in Bodhgaya in northeastern India where this sculpture was made you