Indiana University Bloomington IU Bloomington IUB

Emaciated Buddha

This depiction of Buddha in an emaciated state is rare in the Buddhist canon. Twenty such sculptures are known worldwide. The image represents Siddhartha, the future Buddha, seeking enlightenment. During the period in his life portrayed here, Siddhartha engaged in rigorous meditation and severe fasting. His skeletal thinness, hollow belly, and sunken eyes convey the extreme denial of his physical body as he pursued his spiritual quest.

Central Asian, Gandhara
Emaciated Buddha
2nd–3rd century
Green-gray schist with traces of gilding
9 7/8 x 7 in. (17.7 x 25.0 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 79.53