This Dipankara copper figure offers a gesture of charity (varada mudra) with his left hand and a gesture of protection (abhaya mudra) with his right. Like all other Buddhas, Dipankara has the same external features as Gautama: a top knot (ushnisha), a mark on the forehead (urna), long earlobes, short curly hair and a monk's robe. Dipankara is considered to be the one who first brought the light (the Buddhist teachings) to the world.
According to some Buddhist traditions, Dipankara was a Buddha who reached enlightenment eons prior to Gautama Buddha, the historical Buddha. Generally, Buddhists believe that there has been a succession of many Buddhas in the distant past and that many more will appear in the future. Dipankara, then, would be one of numerous previous Buddhas, while Gautama the most recent and Maitreya will be the Buddha of the future. Dipankara is regarded as an icon of charity throughout the Buddhist pantheon.
A high level of craftsmanship is seen in this work’s intricate casting, the repeating lotus patterns on the base, the details of the garment and its edges as well as the beautifully carved robes with the lower robe pleated in the manner of a flowering skirt.
Dipankara derives from 'deepa' meaning lamp. He is the most celebrated and the first of the twenty-four Buddhas. Dipavati is the name of his capital city. In a past kalpa (a long period of time, aeon in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology, generally between the creation and recreation of a world or universe) this is where King Arcishtra lived. Dipankara was a Bodhisattva in Tushita heaven during the same kalpa. When the time came for him to descend he entered the womb of one of the spouses of the king as the king was thought most suitable to be his father. When the queen was in the throes of childbirth she asked the king to send her to a lotus pond. As soon as she reached the spot, an island sprung up in the midst of the pond for the Bodhisattva to take birth. It is said that large number of bright lamps manifested miraculously, thus his name.
Dipankara Buddha is believed to have lived on this earth for over 100,000 years. He kept on finding someone worthy of hearing the divine truth. Then he decided to convert the world and caused a miracle which appeared in the form of a great city that materialized from his lamp and became stationary in space. Fierce flames emitted from the four walls while the people of Jambudvipa (the name of the southernmost of the four great continents of traditional Buddhist mythology) gazed upon the miracle. Their hearts were filled with fear and they looked for Buddha to save them. Dipankara came forth from the burning city, descended, and seated himself on a lion to teach the Buddhist law.
Sculptures of Buddha Dipankara are relatively rare. This sculpture was hand crafted by the very talented artists of the beautiful Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal!