Cosmic Buddha

Laser Scan


  • Buddhas on the Buddha

    Among the hundreds of figures carved on the Cosmic Buddha are depictions of Dipankara (Buddha of the Distant Past), Shakyamuni (the Historical Buddha), and the bodhisattva Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future. They are often called “Buddhas of the Three Eras” in Chinese Buddhism.
  • 1923

    This tour shares archival photographs taken in 1923 to discuss the purchase of the sculpture in Beijing, the condition of its surface when it arrived in Washington, and its place in the Freer Gallery’s collection.
  • Vimalakirti Nirdesha

    One of the most complex narrative scenes on the surface of the Cosmic Buddha illustrates the popular Vimalakirti Nirdesha sutra which recounts a meeting between Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, and the Buddhist layman Vimalakirti.
  • Missing features and absent mudras

    This sculpture was damaged sometime in the past 1500 years resulting in the loss of its original head and hands. Now, it is only possible to suggest its original symbolic hand gestures (known as mudras in Sanskrit) through comparisons with other sculptures.
  • Cosmic Buddha rigged for setting into concrete base

    Conservation of the Cosmic Buddha

    A look into conservation of the Cosmic Buddha
  • Beige clay-based on the Cosmic Buddha

    Carving and painting the Cosmic Buddha

    Look into the carved narritive of the Cosmic Budda with a conservation scientist's eye
  • Micrographs of Cosmic Buddha's limestone (unmarked)

    The stone of the Cosmic Buddha

    An investigation into the fossiliferous limestone from which the Cosmic Buddha was carved.