Ming Wood Shakyamuni Buddha on Lotus Pedestal, China (16529B-BEME)


H: 18.75:  W: 9.75”  D: 9” | CALL/EMAIL FOR SHIPPING QUOTE

This magnificent and rare Ming Dynasty Buddha is covered with dark lacquer and indications of the vibrant gold and red pigmentation that once enhanced this image. His beautiful face radiates serenity with its benign expression as he sits in meditation on an elaborate lotus throne.  Made to be viewed on all sides his three part monk’s robe extends with flowing sleeves over his feet and down his back. In excellent condition with minor paint losses, this rare masterpiece would enhance any environment with its spiritual energy and beauty.


Although there have been countless Buddhas over the centuries, only Shakyamuni is considered The Buddha, the historical figure who lived on earth and was the source and creator of the doctrine that became Buddhism. He is the principal Buddha and the source of Buddhist teachings, the fourth Buddha of the present era (kalpa) who will be succeeded by the Buddha of the Future Maitreya (Mi-lo-Fu in Chinese) in three thousand years. He sits in meditation mudra (dhyana) denoting perfect physical and spiritual balance with legs in padmasana with one bare foot faced up both hands in his lap, right atop the left, palms upward and thumbs touching at the tips forming a triangle which symbolizes the Triratna or the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma (Buddha’s teachings) and the Sangha (religious community of monks). Dhyana is the most represented pose of a Buddha-Statue in Mahayana Buddhism during the Ming through Qing dynasties and is said to be derived from the position the Buddha assumed when meditating under the Bodhi tree before his enlightenment. He wears a three-part monk’s robe cascading in folds and revealing the lower garment of a monk’s three part robe (dhoti) gathered at the waist with the shawl over his shoulders extending to his back. He radiates serenity with his beautiful benign expression emphasized by downcast eyes, an aquiline nose, and a slightly smiling mouth. He has the identifying features of a great and exceptional spiritual being referred to collectively as lakshanas: pendulous ears symbolizing his enlightenment, three neck creases symbolizing luck, and an ushnisha, a raised cranial protuberance denoting the seat of intellectual powers, wisdom, and divine energy. The ushnisha is centered with a slight hemispherical bump, called a nikkeishu in Japanese, representing a jewel radiating the light of wisdom. His head is snail-crowned, i.e., full of raised rounded spiral curls, an allusion to the Indian legend stating that one day when lost in meditation and thinking about how to assuage the world’s woes, the Buddha was oblivious of the Sun’s fierce rays beating on his head. Snails in gratitude to him and his love for all sentient beings moved to his head to form a protective hood with their own cool bodies. (Williams, p. 351). According to the Laita-Vistara, the religious text which recounts Shakyamuni’s life, he had a “…large skull, broad forehead…skin fine and the color of gold; his hair black and curly.”  He is seated on an elaborate tiered padmapita throne with three rows of lotus leaves.This image is in excellent condition, the image part covered in a thick lacquer coat with flicks of the original gilt in contrast to his red painted throne. It is very rare as few  medium and large Buddhist-Statues, especially Ming wood Buddha images have survived China’s modernization and the vicissitudes of time and adverse factors. This is part of VA Spiritual-and-Inspirational Collection of Buddhist-Art Collection.


Fredrick W. Bunce, A Dictionary of Buddhist and Hindu Iconography, New Delhi, D. K. Printworld (P) Ltd., 2001.

Patricia Eichenbaum Karetzky, Images of Asia: Chinese Buddhist Art, New York, Oxford University Press, 2002.

Meyer McArthur, Reading Buddhist Art: An Illustrated guide to Buddhist Signs and Symbols, London, Thames and Hudson, 2002.

Keith Stevens, Chinese Gods: the Unseen World of Spirits and Demons, London, Collins and Brown, 1997.

C.A.S. Williams, Chinese Symbols and Art Motifs, New York, Dover Publications, 1978. p. 351

Additional information

Place of Origin



Antique, Ming Dynasty


16-17th Century

Materials and Technique

Wood, polychrome, gilt, lacquer

Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 18.75” W: 9.75” D: 9”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 47.62cm W: 24.76cm D: 22.86cm


8lb 13oz


Excellent, fine patina demonstrating age and use

Reference Number


Shipping Box Size