Sukhothai Kingdom, 14th – early 15th century
H. 20 cm or in
Charming Buddha head from the Sukhothai Kingdom (14th – early 15th century), the graceful lines of this bronze reveal a face with a particularly serene and peaceful expression. What we notice immediately is the delicacy that emanates from this piece and which is achieved by an undeniable finesse in execution. The oval elongation of the head – that is a characteristic of the faces of this “classical” period of Thai art – is here accentuated by the flame, symbol of the Buddha’s spiritual force. This flame is elegantly at the top of the uṣṇīṣa or cranial protuberance, which is entirely covered with protruding small curls of hair. Almond-shaped eyes, heavy eyelids, arched eyebrows extending on the bridge of the slightly hooked nose, the delicate and sensual mouth at last: each of these elements is skillfully drawn by marked lines.
The narrow and very elongated earlobes are another distinctive detail of this innovative art, which then became one of the most original styles in Thai art, and one which remained a recurring aesthetic reference until the end of the 19th century.
This bronze has other merits: if the harmony seems obvious here, it is also due to the very good condition of the head. Both the earlobes and the flame are very often missing because of their fragility. Their presence here is very fortunate. The surface of the object is also to be carefully considered: one is struck by the very beautiful contrast of textures between the smooth face with this beautiful brown patina and the hair which catches the light.
Provenance: Private collection, France, since the 1970s.