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Head of Buddha Shakyamuni, 8th century

Thailand: Mon-Dvaravati period, 700-799
13 in. (33.2 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on View

The earliest extant images of the Buddha in Southeast Asia date to the 5th century; they were greatly influenced by Indian examples but maintained a regional aesthetic. This Buddha sculpture reflects the common style associated with the Mon-Dvaravati period (6th–11th century), which is characterized by the Buddha’s exaggerated physical features, articulated monobrow, tufted hair and meditative, downcast eyes. By this time, images of the Buddha had evolved from the Yaksha (guardian) prototype into the contemplative Tathagata (Perfect One). Moreover, the yogi-style topknots seen in earlier Buddha images from Mathura were replaced with more stylized hairstyles, such as the snail curl or tufted mound seen in later examples.

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