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An image of Birth of the Buddha by

Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

Birth of the Buddha
Place of origin
Kathmandu ValleyNepal
14th century-16th century
Media category
Materials used
carved wooden temple strut with traces of pigment

59.0 x 17.2 x 10.0 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
D G Wilson Bequest Fund 2000
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

This beautifully carved Nepali temple strut depicts Queen Maya giving birth to Siddhartha, the Buddha-to-be. According to the legend, the Queen was believed to have become pregnant following a dream in which she saw a white elephant entering her side. This was regarded as a prophecy of an auspicious birth and 10 lunar months later the Queen gave birth from her right side. According to the iconographic convention Queen Maya is depicted rather like a tree-goddess (shalabhanjika), grasping an overhanging flowering branch with her right hand. Her body, although depicted in a stylised pose is swaying and graceful, the pleats of her lower garment adding movement to her elegant figure. Siddhartha is depicted as a diminutive figure emerging from her right side. He is depicted like the adult Buddha with 'ushnisha' and snail shell curls apparently wearing the Buddhist robes. At the lower corner, to the right of her figure, is the god Indra, the King of the gods. He is depicted as a small figure kneeling at her feet with his hands outstretched to receive the new born. This temple strut is a wonderful example of one of the Eight Great Events of Buddhist legend.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, Feb 2000

Bibliography (1)

Jackie Menzies (Editor), Buddha: Radiant awakening, Sydney, 2001, 22 (colour illus.), 183. 2

Exhibition history (1)

Buddha: Radiant awakening, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 10 Nov 2001–24 Feb 2002