As Buddhism traveled along the Silk Roads to China, lions were incorporated into Buddhist beliefs as the protectors of Shakyamuni and, over time, became one of the primary symbols of Shakyamuni and of Buddhism itself. Shakyasimha, a name for Buddha Shakyamuni, literally means lion of the Shakya clan, which is a double reference to the fact that Shakyamuni’s father was the king of the Shakya clan and the symbol of that clan was a lion. The lion also symbolizes Shakyamuni’s royal origins and his courage in challenging injustice and alleviating human suffering. His title “Lion of the Shakyas,” reflects the power of his teachings and his voice is called the “Lion’s Roar,” as he roars out the Dharma for all to hear. Symbolically the lion’s roar reminds followers to strive with the courageous heart of the lion and overcome obstacles in their path, creating happiness and harmony in their lives and in society. Since the Han dynasty pairs of guardian lions have stood in front of Chinese imperial palaces and tombs, government offices, temples, shrines, monasteries and the homes of government officials and the wealthy, believed to be mythological beasts who guard and protect the structures where they are placed. They also symbolize Bodhisattvas who are referred to as the “Buddha’s lions,” who protect the Dharma and lions sometimes support thrones of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Lions are also vehicles for a Vajrayana deities such as Vaishravana and Manjushri, and lion thrones are used in some Buddhist traditions.

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  • Vintage Brass Buddha with Aureole, Nepal


    This fine vintage brass Nepalese Buddha Shakyamuni sculpture with traditional ushnisha  and urna  stands with his hip flexed to the right similar to a contrapposto posture, weight supported on a single leg suggesting movement. With both hands in teaching mudra he wears a thin, close-fitting monks robe in the “wet style”. His elaborate regal pedestal has a removable aureole with a pierced wheel of the dharma above two Buddhist protective lions facing inward. This piece is elegant in its simplicity and expresses the Buddha’s refined and restrained meditative spirituality.

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