Stone statuette of Maya

SKU SK.043
Circa

12th Century AD to 13th Century AD

Dimensions

31.25″ (79.4cm) high x 12.5″ (31.8cm) wide

Medium

Stone

Origin

India

Gallery Location

UK


 

Queen Maya of Sakya (Mayadevi) was the birth mother of Diddartha Gautama Buddha, the sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In Buddhist tradition Maya died seven days after the birth of Buddha, and came to life again in a Buddhist heaven, a pattern, followed in the births of all Buddhas. Thus Maya did not raise her son who was instead raised by his maternal aunt. Maya would, however, on occasion descend from Heaven to advice her son. Maya means “illusion” in Sanskrit. Maya is also called Mahamaya (“Great Maya”) and Mayadevi (“Queen Maya”). In Buddhist literature and art Queen Maya is portrayed as a beautiful fecund woman in the prime of life. Although sometimes shown in other scenes from her life, such as having a dream foretelling her pregnancy with Gautama Buddha or in company of her husband King Suddhodana seeking prophecies about their son’s life, shortly after his birth, she is most often depicted whilst giving birth to Gautama. Maya is usually shown giving birth standing under a tree and reaching overhead to hold on to a branch for support. Nearing her time, Mayadevi set out with her attendants to give birth at her mother’s home. Traveling they came to a glorious garden of fragrant Sal-trees in full bloom. The young queen, wishing to pause in that delightful spot, stepped down from her palanquin and entered the garden. Suddenly the pains of labor overtook her and as she reached up to the tree to steady herself, a flowering bough bent down to support her. Grasping it, she stood and gave birth to her child. Here Mayadevi is reaching up toward the sal tree, her lithe body rising as if in a dance, anklets and ornaments embellishing her graceful form.

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