Buddha Siddhartha Gautama

This is a sculpture of the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. He was the founder of Buddhism and lived in northern India over two and a half thousand years ago.

Buddha Siddhartha Gautama

Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. The Manchester Museum Living Cultures collection.

The sculpture is about two hundred years old and has been made using the dry-lacquer technique. This technique involves building up layers of lacquer (tree sap) with pieces of fabric to form a hollow structure. The sculpture was finally covered in gilt paint.

 The Buddha is sat in the lotus position (cross legged) with his left hand in a meditation mudra (pose) called dhyama and his right hand touching the ground which is called the bhumisparsha mudra. Gautama touched the ground like this as he sat under the pipal tree to call the Earth goddess to witness his unwavering faith. 

 When the Buddha arrived in the UK in 1847 it was reported to be the biggest of its kind in the country. The Manchester Natural History Society purchased it from Edward Higgins of Calcutta but then sold it at an auction in 1868 where it was bought by Salford Museum. Salford Museum eventually transferred it to the Manchester Museum in 1989.

As you can see from the image taken today, the Buddha is currently at home in the Museum conservation laboratory.  He was removed from display several months ago during the installation of the Manchester Gallery. However by the end of November he will be placed back on display in the newly refurbished reception area.

Stephen Terence Welsh

Curator of Living Cultures


2 thoughts on “Buddha Siddhartha Gautama

  1. I remember this Statue of Buddha when as a child it was in the foyer of Salford Museum. It always looked bigger than on this photo? Would it be possible to give the sizes so I can get it in perspective in my Mind?

  2. Hi Steve, the total height, including both stand and top-knot, is 284.6 cm, depth 101.5 cm and finally width 150 cm. I hope this helps.

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