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Asian art

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Buddha sheltered by the seven-headed serpent Muchalinda

early 19th century


Unknown Artist


In the Bangkok period, the patronage and glorification of Buddhism continued as the principal theme of the arts. This seated gilt Buddha sheltering under the seven headed 'naga' is typical of the showy glitter cherished at this time. Its iconography relates to the life story of the Historical Buddha, Shakyamuni: in the fifth week of the seven weeks he meditated after attaining Enlightenment, when he was seated at the edge of Lake Muchalinda, a terrible storm arose, causing the waters of the lake to rise. Seeing that Buddha was lost in meditation, the serpent ('naga') king Muchalinda slipped his coils under Buddha's body, lifting him above the flood. At the same time, he spread the hoods of his seven heads to shelter him. This image is found throughout Southeast Asia.

‘The Asian Collections: Art Gallery of New South Wales’. pg.332
© 2003 Trustees, Art Gallery of New South Wales


Other Titles

Figure of Buddha (enthroned on the seven headed naga)

Buddha enthroned on seven headed cobra

Buddha enthroned under the seven headed naga

Buddha sheltered by the naga Muchalinda

Place where the work was made



early 19th century

Media category


Materials used

bronze, gold leaf, crystal


74.3 x 54.3 x 33.4 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1948


Not on display

Accession number



Where the work was made

Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history


G.J.E. Fombertaux Esq, pre 1948, Lindfield/Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1948.

Referenced in 4 publications


Anne Matthews, City Guide to Sydney, Hampshire, 1996, 41.

Jackie Menzies and Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Asian Collection Handbook, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'South-East Asian Art', pg. 83-96, Sydney, 1990, 95 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Arts of Asia, 'New Dimensions', pg. 54-63, Hong Kong, Nov 2003-Dec 2003, 60 (colour illus.). no.16

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2003, 332 (colour illus.).