Buddha sheltered by the seven-headed serpent Muchalinda
early 19th century
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
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
bronze, gold leaf, crystal
74.3 x 54.3 x 33.4 cm
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Not on display
Where the work was made
Shown in 4 exhibitions
A survey of Indian art (1967), Fisher Library, University of Sydney, Sydney, 06 Sep 1967–23 Sep 1967
Conversations through the Asian collections, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Oct 2014–13 Mar 2016
Glorious, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 May 2017–06 Jan 2019
Walking with gods, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 01 Jun 2019–05 Jan 2020
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.).