An image of Buddha sheltered by the seven-headed serpent Muchalinda

Unknown Artist

Buddha sheltered by the seven-headed serpent Muchalinda

Other titles:
Figure of Buddha (enthroned on the seven headed naga), Buddha enthroned on seven headed cobra, Buddha enthroned under the seven headed naga, Buddha sheltered by the naga Muchalinda
Upper Asian gallery
Further information

In the Bangkok period, the patronage and glorification of Buddhism continued as the principal theme of the arts. This seated gilt Buddha sheltering under the seven headed 'naga' is typical of the showy glitter cherished at this time. Its iconography relates to the life story of the Historical Buddha, Shakyamuni: in the fifth week of the seven weeks he meditated after attaining Enlightenment, when he was seated at the edge of Lake Muchalinda, a terrible storm arose, causing the waters of the lake to rise. Seeing that Buddha was lost in meditation, the serpent ('naga') king Muchalinda slipped his coils under Buddha's body, lifting him above the flood. At the same time, he spread the hoods of his seven heads to shelter him. This image is found throughout Southeast Asia.

‘The Asian Collections: Art Gallery of New South Wales’. pg.332
© 2003 Trustees, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Place of origin
early 19th century
bronze, gold leaf, crystal
74.3 x 54.3 x 33.4 cm
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Purchased 1948
Accession number
G.J.E. Fombertaux Esq, pre 1948, Lindfield/Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1948.