Mahasiddha

DATE:
17th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Bronze
CLASSIFICATION:
Sculpture
DIMENSIONS:
8 × 5 1/4 × 4 1/8 in. (20.32 × 13.34 × 10.48 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of Asia
LOCATION:
305 BUDDHIST GALLERY
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Alta Brenner in memory of her daughter Andrea Bernice Brenner-McMullen
OBJECT NUMBER:
1992.42

General Description

The mahasiddhas are a group of Indian Tantric practitioners (predominantly from the 8th to 11th centuries), most of whom overcame great obstacles such as poverty, sickness, and advanced age to attain enlightenment through Tantric meditations taught to them by gurus who were often mahasiddhas themselves. This bronze shows a Tantric mahasiddha with his hands in the position of teaching the Dharma (dharmachakra mudra). He is seated on a lotus throne with his legs partially crossed. The throne, together with the golden third eye, signify that he has attained enlightenment, transcended the world of birth and death, and is now present in the world only to teach and guide living beings. The medallion in the center of this mahasiddha's chest with its jeweled chains crossing from his shoulders symbolizes the Tantric yogi's "yoke," which indicates he or she attained enlightenment through yoking his or her mind to the powerful practices and austerities of the Tantric path. It is difficult to identify this figure specifically, as he has only generic features such as the position of his hands and legs, his ornaments, and his throne. Many famous mahasiddhas have distinct iconographic markers that facilitate identification.

Adapted from

Robert Warren Clark, "Mahasiddha," in The Arts of India, South East Asia, and the Himalayas, Anne R. Bromberg (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 167.

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