Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Asian art

View More:


Amitabha Buddha

late 8th century-mid 9th century


Unknown Artist


This monumental stone image of the seated Buddha Amitabha, the Buddha of the West, sits with his hands held in the meditation gesture (in Sanskrit known as 'dhyana mudra'), his feet in the 'vajrasana' position of both soles upwards, and wearing the thin diaphanous robe of a monk. Deeply immersed in meditation, the Buddha emanates the serenity, wisdom and spirituality expected of the central icon of Buddhism. It is likely that originally this Buddha was part of a specific grouping. For example, Amitabha, together with Shakyamuni, the Historical Buddha, and Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future, constitutes the powerful triumvirate of Past, Present and Future Buddhas. As well, Amitabha as the Buddha of the West, appears in mandalas on the western quarter.

The concept of the mandala, a diagrammatic representation of the invisible forces that govern the cosmos, was brought to Indonesia with Vajrayana Buddhism. Vajrayana mandalas commonly have five Buddhas: the Buddhas of the Four Directions, presided over by Vairochana, the Buddha of the Centre. The largest three-dimensional mandala, and a site of world cultural significance, is at Borobudur, an astounding 9th century monument that contains nearly 500 Buddhist statues. Stylistically this Buddha is close to those at Borobudur, and presumably belonged to such a set that once constituted a temple mandala, with Amitabha Buddhas presiding over the west.

The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.339.


Place where the work was made

Central Java Java Indonesia


late 8th century-mid 9th century

Media category


Materials used



105.0 x 88.0 x 65.0 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 2000


Not on display

Accession number



Where the work was made
Central Java

Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Private Collection, pre 06 Sep 1983, Geneva/Switzerland

Nelly Batache, 06 Sep 1983-Nov 1989, Paris/France, purchased through the Orientalische Kunst-Anstalt (art dealership), Vaduz, Liechtenstein with the assistance of Paris- based art dealer, Jean-Michel Beurdeley. Condition report certified by Jean-Michel Beurdeley, 28 November 1989, Paris.

Eddy Batache, 1989-2000, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, by descent. On loan to Art Gallery of New South Wales through Mr Eddy Batache from 1989. Purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2000.

Referenced in 10 publications


Edmund Capon, Orientations, 'Asian Collections in the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 76-79, Hong Kong, Sep 2000, 79 (colour illus.). fig.6

Ann Macarthur, Inspirations - Art ideas for primary and middle years, Carlton South, 2004, cover (colour illus.), 4 (colour illus.). card 4

Jackie Menzies (Editor), Buddha: Radiant awakening, Sydney, 2001, 104 (colour illus.), 186. 76

Jackie Menzies, Look: 1953-2003 celebrating 50 years, 'Asian Treasures', pg. 57-59, Sydney, May 2003, 57 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2003, 339 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Arts of Asia, 'New Dimensions', pg. 54-63, Hong Kong, Nov 2003-Dec 2003, 59 (colour illus.). no.12

Jackie Menzies, Look, 'Icon of the spiritual', pg. 18, Melbourne, Oct 2000, front cover (colour illus.), 18 (colour illus.).

Jill Sykes, Look, 'New Era for Gallery's Asian Art', pg. 22-23, Sydney, Sep 2003, 23 (colour illus.), 23 (detail).

Alejandra Szczepaniak, Look, 'The year of giving generously', pg. 22-23, Melbourne, Dec 2000-Jan 2001, 22 (colour illus.), 23.

Judith White, Look, 'Joining the circle', pg. 11, Sydney, May 2006, 11 (colour illus.).