Southeast Asia, Thailand, Ayutthaya Period, ca. 17th to early 18th century CE. A life-sized, cast-brass head of Buddha with a hollow interior and sensuous facial details. Buddha presents a meditative countenance with downcast eyes filled with red pigment beneath wispy brows, full lips with indented corners, a sharply crested, aquiline nose, and tall ears bearing the tops of each lobe. Topping his head is an intricate crown with raised floral and foliage motifs beneath a flaming upper periphery, applied red pigment, and opulent gilding in 54.7% gold (equivalent to 12K+) which still retains its original yellow hue on the verso. Above the crown are a pair of tiered, conical ushnishas that flank the upper casting hole. An extraordinary head replete with expert detailing and lustrous brown patina. Size: 7.9″ W x 11.375″ H (20.1 cm x 28.9 cm); quality of gold: 54.7% (equivalent to 12K+).
The head of Buddha is perhaps the most significant element of the deity as it represents his immense body of knowledge and wisdom along with the tranquil nature that emanates from its expression. The prominent elongated ears are a physical feature symbolic of the Buddha’s time as a prince when he wore elaborate ear ornaments to demonstrate wealth and prosperity. Of course, the prince stopped wearing them when he left the palace to become an ascetic; however, his earlobes remained stretched signifying a renunciation of the material world. Beyond the multi-layered meaning embodied in the iconography of this piece, the technique executed to create the meticulously delineated curls of his coiffure and the absolute smoothness of the contours of that face is very impressive.