Masterpiece Shakyamuni Buddha with Arhats, Garuda & Naga Kanyas

This is an absolutely beautiful rendition of Shakayamuni Buddha encompassed by an exquisitely carved torana (archway). The amount of detail for such a small piece is just absolutely staggering!  A true work of art!”
Brenda, Dharma Sculpture

Siddhartha Gautama was the son of Shakya King Buddhadana and Green Mahadevi. He was also called Buddha Shakyamuni or The Lion of the Shakya Clan. In the very center of this statue Buddha Shakyamuni is seen meditating in the “earth touching gesture” on an elaborate detailed carved lotus throne with a vajra carving. Below the vajra carving is a Naga (serpent). Nagas are the underworld guardians of treasures and concealed teachings. Shakyamuni is flanked by two of his chief disciples (arhats) namely Sariputra to his right and Maudgalyayana (also known as Moggallana) to his left representing the past and future Buddha.  His face is serene and a peaceful aura surrounds him. His left hand is on his lap holding an alms bowl.

Lord Buddha is seated in front of a torana or archway. Toranas are extremely common in Nepali Newari art.  As the ‘six-ornament’ enlightenment throne of the Buddha, its upper arch is decorated with mythological creatures, Garuda at its top and a pair of symmetrical Naga Kanyas and Makaras below. On its sides are a pair of young gods or devas, two hybrid antelopes or sharabha, two lions and two elephants.

As mentioned above, directly above Lord Buddha is an image of Garuda, the devourer of snakes. Garuda has a human upper body, large eyes, a beak, horns and hair that stands on end as well as bird’s claws and wings. Garuda is regarded as the deity that can cure snakebites, epilepsy and disease caused by Nagas. Garuda symbolizes the space element  and the power of the sun, which can dry up the waters. Therefore Garuda is the natural enemy of snakes , which he devours or controls. It is said that Garuda can detect a snake at a distance, swooping down from the sky to seize and devour it. In a similar manner, Garuda, just like the mind’s spiritual energy, can detect the arising of a snake-like delusion and can eliminate it instantly without any obstruction.

To Garuda’s right and left are Naga Kanyas, (Snake  Women). These engaging figures have a human torso and the body of a snake. The Nagas are serpents who in south and southeast Asian mythology are considered to be rain givers and guardians of the water and the riches of the deep. Naga Kanyas are the daughters of the Nagas. They are the goddesses of the three realms and pour their blessings of water on the worlds of the spirits, animals and humans. Though originally Hindu gods the figures of the Naga Kanyas were appropriated by Vajrayana Buddhism, images of Naga Kanyas appear in Tibetan, Nepalese and other tantric Buddhist art.

Below each of the Naga Kanya’s are Makaras, according to Buddhist tradition, these hybrids originated during the time immediately after the Buddha’s awakening when all hatred vanished from the world. During that time, animals that had been foe and prey mated with each other and produced such offspring as Makaras. Makaras have the lower jaw of a crocodile, the snout or trunk of an elephant, the tusks and ears of a wild boar, the darting eyes of a monkey, the scales and flexible body of a fish, and the swirling tail feathers of a peacock. They are the guardians of the toranas (gateways) and are a symbol of tenacious strength!

This sculpture is a one of a kind statue, handcrafted by the very talented artists of the beautiful Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal!
http://www.dharmasculpture.com/category/new-arrivals.html

Protection Gesture Standing Buddha

Lord Buddha’s hand is held up in abhaya mudra also known as the gesture of protection. The ushnisha, protuberance above his head also referred to as a topknot, symbolizes His wisdom and openness as an enlightened being. The Buddha is always depicted with elongated earlobes, a vestige of his life as a prince, when he wore extravagant jewelry.

This wood sculpture is a one of a kind statue, hand carved by the very talented artists of the beautiful country Cambodia.
http://www.dharmasculpture.com/category/new-arrivals.html

 

Dharma Sculpture’s Buddhist Pilgrimage

Buddhism is a philosophy followed by nearly 500 million people in the world. Though the concentration of Buddhist followers is high in south and southeast Asia, followers of Buddhism are scattered all over the world. They visit different Buddhist sites and learning centers, enhancing their knowledge of Buddhism and paying homage at places related with the life of Buddha. Buddhist followers treat sites associated with Buddha with great respect. Buddhist circuit tours that connect sites related to the life of Buddha scattered over Nepal and India are already popular among Buddhist travelers and tourists alike.

The Buddhist circuit is a route that follows the footsteps of the Buddha from Lumbini in Nepal where he was born, through Bodh Gaya (India) where he attained enlightenment, to Sarnath (India) where he gave his first sermon and Kushinagar (India) where he attained paranirvana after taking his last breath. The iconic route only includes places where the Buddha spent time and these places have important sites and monuments, all of which are over 2,500 years old and are revered by all Buddhist followers. The Buddhist circuit is an important pilgrimage destination for people practicing Buddhism, as well as other travelers interested in history, culture or spirituality.

Since we are currently in Nepal visiting our artists and procuring new statues we saw this as a good opportunity to visit all of these most holy Buddhist places. We will visit the main four mentioned above but not in that precise order. First we will visit Lumbini in Nepal, then Kushinagar, Bodhgaya and Sarnath (located in India). We will be posting updates on our blog daily as we reach and visit each destination.

Cambodian Soapstone Buddha

Soapstone also known as “steatite” or “soaprock” is a stone which is notable for its high degree of resistance to heat. In Cambodia, soapstone, which mostly comes from the province of Pursat (in the western part of the country) has been used to carve religious effigies since the 17th century. Any variation in the color of the stone is inherent to the very nature of the material, its array varies from yellow-green to gray and deep purple.

This Buddha has a distinct Cambodian style. Lord Buddha is in the the ‘earth touching’ gesture or ‘earth witness’ also known as bhumisparsha mudra. He is seated on a separately carved single lotus base. Lord Buddha is depicted with heavy eyelids that evoke a mood of introspection and detachment, enhanced by the hint of a smile on the full lips. The distended earlobes, a legacy of Prince Siddhartha’s discarding his heavy gold jewelry further indicates the Buddha’s enlightened status. A simple yet elegant carving. It is unpolished and thus has a matte finish.

This sculpture is a one of a kind statue, hand carved by the very talented artists of Cambodia. Every piece is truly unique!

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The Lotus Flower, One of the Eight Auspicious Symbols

pinklotusflower.jpgThe Indian lotus (Sanskrit: Padma, Kamala), which grows from the dark watery mire but is unstained by it, is a major Buddhist symbol of purity and renunciation.  It represents the blossoming of wholesome activities, which are performed with complete freedom from the faults of cyclic existence.  The lotus seats upon which deities sit or stand symbolize their divine origin.  They are immaculately conceived, innately perfect, and absolutely pure in their body, speech, and mind.  The deities manifest into cyclic existence, yet they are completely uncontaminated by its defilements, emotional hindrances, and mental obscurations.

As a sacred symbol the lotus was adopted by many of the world’s great civilizations, from Egypt to Japan, and widely incorporated into their arts and architecture.  The lotus opens and closes with the sun, and in ancient Egypt the sun was conceived as of rising from an eastern lotus at dawn, and setting into a western lotus at sunset.  Similarly Surya, the Vedic sun god, holds a lotus in each of his hands, symbolizing the suns path across the heavens.  Brahman, the Vedic god of creation, was born from a golden lotus that grew from the nave of Vishnu, like a lotus growing from an umbilical stem.  Padmasambhava, the ‘lotus born’ tantric master who introduced Buddhism into Tibet, was similarly divinely conceived from a miraculous lotus, which blossomed upon Danakosha Lake in the western Indian kingdom of Uddiyana.  The lotus as a divine womb or vagina is a potent sexual metaphor in both Hindu and Buddhist tantra.  Padma and kamala are synonymous Sanskrit terms for the ‘lotus’ of the female vagina, which is soft, pink, and open.  Likewise the vajra is synonymous with the male penis, which is hard and penetrative.  The union of vajra and padma is a sexual symbol for the union of form and emptiness, or skillful means and wisdom.  On an inner level this union symbolizes the penetration and ascent of the psychic winds into the subtle body’s central channel, which pierces and opens the ‘lotuses’ of the channel-wheels or chakras.

The lotus is the emblem of Amitabha, the red Buddha of the west and the ‘Lord of the Padma or Lotus Family’.  Amitabha’s qualities are indicative of the redness of fire, vital fluids, evening twilight, the summer season, and the transmutation of passion into discriminating awareness.  Amitabha’s consort is Pandara, whose attribute is also a red lotus.  Amitabha’s presiding bodhisattva is Padmapani Avalokiteshvara, the ‘Holder of the Lotus’, and the Bodhisattva of great compassion.

The Buddhist lotus is described as having four, eight, sixteen, twenty-four, thirty-two, sixty-four, a hundred, or a thousand petals.  These numbers symbolically correspond to the internal lotuses or chakras of the subtle body, and to the numerical components of the mandala.  As a hand-held attribute the lotus is usually colored pink or light red, with eight or sixteen petals.  Lotus blossoms may also be colored white, yellow, golden, blue and black.  The white or ‘edible lotus’ (Sanskrit: pundarika) is an attribute of the Buddha Sikhin, and a sixteen-petaled white utpala lotus is held by White Tara. The yellow lotus and the golden lotus are generally known as padma, and the more common red or pink lotus is usually identified as the kamala.  The Sanskrit term utpala is specifically identified with the blue or black ‘night lotus’, but its transliterated Tibetan equivalent (Tib. ut-pa-la) may be applied to any color of lotus.

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Dvarapala, Temple Guardian

dvarapala

Dvarapalas (temple lions) traditionally stand guard outside the gates of shrines, Buddhist temples and porticos of homes.  In Japan, they are referred to as Shishi (or Jishi) and can also refer to a deer or dog with magical properties and the power to repel evil spirits.  In China they are referred to as Foo Dogs and are traditionally depicted in pairs.  In Thailand they are referred to as Singha, the true king of the forest.  His roar echoes to great distances, terrifying all forest animals, great and small, and stand at the entrance of Thai temples, guarding the sacred Buddhist teachings.  In Indonesia and Cambodia they are referred to as ‘Dvarapalas’ and are generally armed with lances and clubs and can often times have a bulky physique, while the Dvarapalas in Thailand are leaner and are portrayed in standing straight position holding the club downward in the center.  Dvarapala sculpture in Thailand is made of a high-fired stoneware clay covered with a pale, almost milky glaze known as celadon. Ceramic sculptures of this type were produced during the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya periods, between the 14th and 16th centuries.  This is process still exist today and the pieces are produced at several kiln complexes located in northern Thailand.  The main function of Dvarapalas is to protect the temples.  Dvarapalas in Cambodia may be seen, for example, at various temples in and around Angkor Wat.

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Buddhist Customs & Traditions: Giving Alms

Buddha Statue Giving AlmsThe act of giving alms to monks has been practiced by Buddhists for thousands of years.  It’s equated with doing good things and the belief is that this will bring about peace and happiness.

There are many ways in which Buddhists can make merit and among them are giving alms, living life according to religious precepts and praying.

Alms giving is very common practice and usually done at the break of dawn when Buddhist monks begin their alms rounds.  Laypeople are required to prepare food and water and wait for the monks to approach them with their alms bowl.

It is important to note that women are prohibited from physical contact with a monk regardless of her age, nationality or religion.  Every female alms donor must take care not to touch a monk when she is offering food to him.

Once food and water have been placed inside the bowl, the monk will place the lid on top of his alms bowl and recite a prayer as a blessing to his donor after which the merit-making will be considered as officially over.

Buddhists give alms for a number of reasons, one example is in honor of deceased loved ones, the belief being that they will not have to suffer from famine in the afterlife.

The common rule when making merit is to ensure that the mind is purified.  Only after that state has been accomplished will the Buddhist proverb of “do good and good will come unto you” ring true.

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Buddhist Alms Bowl, Patra

almsbowl2almsbowl1

Soon after Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment the four great Great Guardian Kings of the four directions each presented him with an alms-bowl, the most beautiful of which was made of precious gems and the simplest from common clay.  Shakyamuni was said to have either chosen the simple clay bowl or to have accepted all four bowls and miraculously convert them into one plain bowl that was sufficient for the needs of a humble mendicant.

The traditional alms bowl of a Buddhist monk or bhikshu is shaped like the inverted head protuberance (Skt. ushnisha) of the Buddha, a symbols of the highest attainment of Buddhahood, as the wisdom the directly realizes emptiness.  The alms bowl is generally held in the left “wisdom” hand of seated Buddhas and their disciples, the sangha.  This left hand often rest upon the lap in the gesture of meditation, with the alms bowl indicating renunciation and the hand gesture meditation upon emptiness.

Three fruits or gems, representing the trinity of Buddha, dharma and sangha, are also commonly depicted in an alms bowl.  The specific attribute of a particular Buddha may also be shown in his alms bowl.

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Tibetan Buddhist Sage, Milarepa Statue 6″

tibetan buddhist milarepa

Milarepa is held in the highest esteem by all Tibetans as the archetypal yogi. His heroic quest for knowledge is legendary. He is renowned for his ecstatic verse and in this image, his parted lips suggest the singing of songs for which he is famed throughout Tibet. His left hand is held up towards his ear, often interpreted as the gesture of listening to the songs of nature or the teachings of the masters. His half-closed eyes suggest a state of reverie. He wears large hoop earrings and a meditation strap over his right shoulder passing beneath his cloak. He is seated on an antelope skin draped over the base of the statue.

Naga Mahakala, Protector of Dharma, Copper Sculpture, 10″

 Naga Mahakala, Protector of Dharma Wax method copper sculpture

Mahakala, Glorious Lord of Pristine Awareness. Fiercely wrathful, staring with three bulging round eyes, mouth gaping with bared fangs and hanging snakes for hair. Holding aloft in the right hand, pointed to the sky, a flaming lance, and in the left a poisoned heart and lasso.

Mahakala is adorned with a crown of five dry skulls, earrings and a skirt of fresh human heads. Tucked into the sash at the waist is a ghandi stick made of sandalwood. He is dressed in boots, with the right leg bent and left straight standing atop two human corpses, thus symbolizing the death of negativities and the complete uprooting of negative patterns to such a point that, like a dead body, they will not come to life. Mahakala stands surrounded by the burning flames of pristine awareness.

Both Hindus and Buddhists worship Mahakala. Buddhists consider him as a manifestation of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Mahakala is always seen in the entrance of Buddhist monasteries. He is regarded as the protector of the Buddhist doctrine.

This lost wax method copper sculpture is a one of a kind statue, hand cast by the very talented artists of the beautiful country of Nepal. Every piece is truly unique!