Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Birth of the Buddha

Birth of the Buddha, Kushan periodPakistan (ancient region of Gandhara, probably Takht-i-Bahi)

The Buddha's mother, Maya, delivered him miraculously in a garden in Lumbini, located in present-day southern Nepal. She stood beneath a tree and, with her right arm, clung to a branch for support. This pose mirrors one given to ancient Indian female nature spirits whose touch, it was believed, caused a tree to bloom and fruit. The figure of the Buddha-to-be, although somewhat damaged, can be seen emerging from Maya's side, his head surrounded by a halo. The child was received and bathed by attending gods, who stand to Maya's right. The woman to Maya's left is probably her sister, who raised the Buddha after Maya's death a week after his birth. The attendant on the farthest right holds a pitcher filled with water for the ritual bath.

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