Seated Buddha Shakyamuni, 18th century
Bronze with silver inlay 22 in. x 18 1/2 in. (55.88 cm x 46.99 cm)
Crocker Art Museum, gift of Anne and Malcolm McHenry1974.9
In the 13th century, the Tai king Mengrai, who established Lanna in northern Thailand, brought Wieng Chan (Vientiane) under his authority. Laotian history begins in the mid-14th century, when the Tai ruler Chao Fa Ngum broke away from Lanna to create the kingdom of Lan Xang (Land of a Million Elephants). Like the Khmer, Burmese, and Thais, the Lao- tians practice Theravada Buddhism (teaching of the Elders), which follows Pali texts that focus on Siddhartha Gautama (the historical Buddha Shakyamuni). The most common Bud- dha images in these Theravada Buddhist countries are seated images of Buddha Shakyamuni in bhumisparsha mudra. The gesture refers to the moment when Shakyamuni called the earth (Sanskrit: Prithvi) to witness his resolve.