Emaciated Buddha figurine






Late 19th or early 20th century






COMMENT. The carved ivory figurine is an inaccurate reduced copy of the famous stone statue of the 2nd or 3rd century CE, which is widely known as the "Emaciated Buddha" or the "Fasting Buddha". It was found in the 19th century by British archaeologists in Pakistan during excavations of the city of Taxila, the historical capital of the ancient Kingdom of Gandhara. Currently, the original is stored in the Lahore Museum (Pakistan). It was created from gray schist stone during the Gandhara period in the Greco-Roman style, is 84 cm high. Strictly speaking, the statue should be called the "Fasting Bodhisattva" or the "Fasting Siddhartha", as it portrays an event that took place before the enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha. According to the early Buddhist texts, prior to attaining nirvana, Siddhartha Gautama practiced the extreme forms of fasting that were common in the religions of the time. He was surviving only on a single grain of rice a day. Physical deprivations for seven weeks, including starvation, did not lead to the desired spiritual progress, but they exhausted Siddhartha so much that he became like a living skeleton and could barely stand. Only after Siddhartha renounced severe asceticism and concentrated on the practice of meditation did he attain enlightenment. The sculpture portrays the future Buddha Shakyamuni precisely during the period of extreme fasting.