The central figure of the relief is Amitabha Buddha wearing monastic robes draped over one shoulder, seated in the dhyanasana position on an open lotus, symbolic of the attainment of enlightenment. He is seated beneath a gem-encrusted tree which is inherently suggestive of the bodhi or pipal tree at Bodh Gaya under which Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment. Amitabha makes a gesture of teaching with his two hands.
Hierarchic scaling is used very effectively here to suggest three tiers of spiritual attainment. At the highest level is the Buddha Amitabha himself, the exemplar of spiritual perfection who is shown larger than the bodhisattva standing on his left. The bodhisattva, in turn, represents a middle tier of spiritual attainment. Though he is a perfected being he has not yet fully realized his enlightenment, and is thus represented smaller in scale than the central Buddha.
Condition: Some loss to the base of the piece and wear around the edges. Minor loss to the nose of the head of one of the deities and right arm of the nearest bodhisattva. Loss to the face of other bodhisattva. There is heavy mineral accretion throughout, especially to the top and bottom panels and inside the crevices. Despite the losses, the piece is beautifully carved and presents very well. Museum quality custom mount.
Dimensions: width: 8 1/4" (20.95 cm), height: 7 3/4 inches (19.5 cm), with museum quality custom mount.
Provenance: Private Connecticut collection, acquired in the 1960's and then by descent.