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Length: 83 cm / Width: 50 cm / Depth: 20 cm

This relief on Magnolia Champaca depicts the life of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, from his birth up to his ascension to nirvana.  

Siddartha Gautama lived around the 5th-6th century BC and founded a community of wandering monks, which gave birth to Buddhism. The place of his birth can still be visited in Lumbini, Nepal. 

The scene at the bottom left illustrates the dream of Mayadevi, wife of the king of the Shakya kingdom and mother of the future Buddha. According to legend, Mayadevi dreamed of a Boddhisatava who came to earth in the form of a white elephant and penetrated her side with his trunk. 

Just above, the scene symbolises Buddha’s birth in a garden in Lumbini and deities raining flowers on the child, who is already rising to walk. 

The third scene illustrates the extreme asceticism of Siddhartha Gautama. Leaving the palace at the age of 29, he discovers the suffering of the world, which had until then been hidden cautiously from him.  Consequently, he decides to become a wandering hermit by practicing austerity, in search of enlightenment.  

Renouncing this extreme path, he then chooses a middle path, without excess, centered on meditation – which is symbolised by the fourth scene where Siddhartha is seen feeding again. 

The lower central scene depicts Siddhartha, meditating under a banyan tree near Bodhgaya. He is tormented by a horde of demons who symbolise the poisons of the mind, negative emotions, and feelings.  

The scene above symbolises the Buddha triumphant and reaching enlightenment at the age of 35, touching the earth as a witness. 

At the very top right of the relief, the Buddha teaches the new doctrine, whose aim is to annihilate suffering and achieve enlightenment. 

The scene below represents the milkmaid Sujata donating a bowl of food to the Buddha and ending his 6 years of ascetism. According to legend, he was so emaciated that she took him for a tree spirit that had granted her wish to have a child. 

Below, the Buddha sits in a meditation position in the forest, while an elephant and a monkey feed him and protect him from the wild animals. 

The scene at the bottom left represents Buddha’s return from heaven to earth in divine procession. According to legend, having reached enlightenment, the Buddha visited his mother in paradise and taught her his doctrine of deliverance.  

The upper central scene represents the “death” of the Buddha and his entry into nirvana. He is surrounded by his lamenting disciples, including by his most faithful followers, Sariputra and Maudgalyayana, on the left and right. 

At the very top of the relief stands the stupa of Swayambunath, located in Kathmandu - a personal touch from the Nepalese artist. 

The mantra on the relief is the one of Shakyamuni: « Om muni muni maha muni shakya muni swa ha » (« Om wise one, wise one, greatly wise one, wise one of the Shakyans, hail! »)