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Dipankara Buddha

Dipankara Buddha, c. 1600-1650

Nepal, 1575-1675
Gilt and enameled copper with semiprecious stones and pigments
32-1/2 in. (82.6 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

Dipankara, one of numerous Buddhas of the past, is said to have predicted the coming of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. According to legend, a rich Brahmin named Sumati saw that Dipankara was about to walk into a puddle of water. In order to prevent him from soiling his feet, Sumati laid his long hair across the puddle; following this event, Dipankara prophesized Sumati’s rebirth as the future Buddha. Images of Dipankara in Nepal are worshipped as icons bestowing charity and protecting merchants. In this copper figure, Dipankara offers a gesture of charity (varamudra) with his left hand and a gesture of protection (abhayamudra) with his right. His richly decorated monk’s robe, crown and jewelry further illustrate Dipankara’s role as an icon of charity.

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