Chief disciple ”Śāriputra"

950 €

Mandalay, Northern Burma, late 19th century, private collection from Finland.

Mandalay was founded in 1857 by King Mindon Min, replacing Amarapura as the new royal capital of the Kongbaung dynasty. On 13th February 1857, King Mindon founded a new royal capital at the foot of Mandalay Hill, ostensibly to fulfill a prophecy on the founding of a metropolis of Buddhism in that exact place on the occasion of the 2,400th jubilee of Buddhism. Mandalay was Burma's final royal capital before the kingdom's annexation by the British Empire in 1885. Under British rule, Mandalay remained commercially and culturally important despite the rise of Yangon, the new capital of British Burma.

Śāriputra (Pali: Sāriputta, lit. "the son of Śāri") was one of the top disciples of the Buddha. He is considered the first of the Buddha's two chief male disciples, together with Maudgalyāyana (Pali: Moggallāna). Śāriputra had a key leadership role in the ministry of the Buddha and is considered in many Buddhist schools to have been important in the development of the Buddhist Abhidharma. He frequently appears in Mahayana sutras, and in some sutras, is used as a counterpoint to represent the Hinayana school of Buddhism. Śāriputra is depicted seated on the Buddha’s right. Śāriputra was foremost in wisdom and it was said that Śāriputra was only second to Lord Buddha when it comes to ability to teach. Images of the Śāriputra and Moggallāna often are found in Burmese artwork. Carved wooden and lacquered images were used in temples and monasteries where they were placed before images of the Buddha as part of a shrine (hpaya khan).

Śāriputra sits in a position of listening with one hand resting on a shin and the other on his thigh. The modeling of his head is particularly naturalistic. His face with serene meditative expression, finely arched eyebrows and lightly-smiling bow shaped mouth. The gaze are inquiring and contemplative. Wearing a monastic close-fitting sanghāti with hem embellished with various glass insets, the pleated and draped over his left shoulder. His right shoulder has been left bare. He sits in the way of a Buddhist worshipper with feet pointing behind him and away from the focus of veneration. His right foot rests over the long robe which trails behind him.

Śāriputra is finely carved in wood, lacquered with cinnabar-red lacquer and then gilded (gold leaf). It has been inlaid with several glass fragments backed with green and silver foil (a process known as hman-zi-shwei-cha) and overlaid with this beautiful ornament decoration (thayo), where rolled strands of lacquer and ash putty are applied in patterns. Excellent condition. Age related minor wear. Gilding and lacquer are partially worn out. Stunning patina. Some glass insets missing. Minor flaking. Repaired robe trail. Dust, dirt and soot. Size approx. 31,0cm x 23,0cm x 25,0cm. Weight c. 1543g.