Soon after his enlightenment, the Buddha travelled to a deer park near the town of Sarnath where he preached his first sermon. The posture in this figure aims to show him in this manner ‘setting in motion the Wheel of Law’ to his followers.
The Wheel of law in Buddhism explains the real nature of life and existence. At the base of the Buddha’s throne is an image of a bodhisattva – a highly spiritual person who is also destined for enlightenment. He’s wearing a turban and a halo and is flanked by worshippers.
The carving on this statue, made from a stone called schist, is incredibly detailed, as can be seen in the Buddha’s delicate fingernails, the folds in his robe, or the wavy lines in his hair.
This is a style of statue that has been reproduced all over the world to show respect to the Buddha’s learning and enlightenment.