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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Buddha taming the wild elephant

ID Image taken by Michele Miller 6/6/2016

Buddha taming the wild elephant

ca. 9th-10th century

Buddhism flourished under the Pala empire, and this northeastern region became the last stronghold of the Buddhist faith in the country of its origin. This scene of the Buddha taming the wild elephant takes on an iconic quality, with narrative aspects reduced to the most basic elements. The mad elephant Nalagiri was released by the Buddha's scheming cousin Devadatta, with the intent of killing the Buddha. The elephant becomes utterly pacified in the presence of the Buddha and is shown here kneeling before him in adoration. The Buddha stands on a lotus pedestal, and the small figure to his left with a staff and bowl is believed to be one of the Buddha's followers.
Black chlorite
19 1/2 x 11 1/2 x 4 1/4 in. (49.53 x 29.21 x 10.8 cm)
Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection
ID Image taken by Michele Miller 6/6/2016
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "Indian Buddhist Sculpture", February 3 - August 20, 1990, (02/03/1990 - 08/20/1990)

Portland, Oregon, Portland Art Museum, "Gift to a City: Masterworks from the Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection in the Seattle Art Museum", cat. # 76
Published References"Gift to a City" exhibition catalogue. Portland, OR: Portland Art Museum, 1965, cat. no. 76

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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