Also known as the Buddha of Infinite Light who rules over the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss (which is most definitely on my next holiday destination list), this Chinese Buddha stands in serene majesty in the middle of the northern stairway.
At 6 metres, he is the largest ancient Chinese statue in the West and has been present at the British Museum since 1938 when the Chinese gifted him to us.
He dates from the Sui Dynasty, around the tail end of the 6th Century and I love the way that his presence really does seem to calm you as you walk up the several flights of stairs.
His hands didn’t quite make it through the previous one and a half thousand years, but here I am demonstrating the hand shapes, or mudras, that he would have had.
His right hand would have been raised in the gesture of fearlessness or reassurance, known as the abhaya mudra whilst his left hand would have been lowered in the gesture of bestowal, known as the varada mudra. Although it has been suggested that my version of an abhaya mudra looks more like a Vulcan salute.... Cheeky..
Don’t miss the Chinese galleries at the British Museum for an absolutely fascinating insight to some of the richest cultures on the planet.