Asian art

Sultanganj Buddha Statue

Sultanganj Buddha Statue

One of the most artistic creation of Gupta artists is a Sultanganj Buddha Statue. In fact, it was created during the transitional period of Gupta and Pala dynasty. This statue is the largest substantially complete copper Buddha statue known from that time. Regarding the height and weight of this statues, it is 2.3 m high, 1m wide, and weighs over 500 kg.

This statue was found in the North Indian town of Sultanganj, Bhagalpur district, Bihar. It was during the construction of the East Indian Railway in 1861. Hence, this statue was called as Sultanganj Buddha statue. Archaeologists suggest that this statue may be from the time period between 500 and 700 AD. At present context, this statue has been displayed in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, England.

Description and iconography of Sultanganj Buddha Statue

Sultanganj Buddha Statue is depicted in standing position with Abhaya hand mudra. His left hand is held downwards with a palm outwards while his right hand is bend in his ankle and palm spread outward. Abhaya mudra represents fearlessness and is associated with the event where he was charged by an aggressive elephant sent by his cousin Devadatta. The monastic robe covers the body of the statue and the end of it is held in the manner that is still practiced by Theravadin monks. Like other Buddha statues, this one also confirms the general characteristics of the statues.

Discovery and later history of the Sultanganj Buddha statue

In 1861, E.B. Harris, the railway engineer discovered the Buddha statues during excavation on the ancient remains near the Sultanganj station that he was constructing. Later he published a detailed account of his work along with a site plan and photographs. In that publication, he described that he had first found the right foot of the Buddha which was ten feet under the surface, beneath the floor. Later he learned that it was Buddha statue that was buried due to unknown reasons. The floor was used to conceal the statue after it had been toppled from its former place.

After he unearthed the statue, he sent it to Birmingham and the cost of transportation was paid by Samuel Thornton, a Birmingham manufacturer of ironmongery. Thornton offered the statue to the Borough Council for their proposed Art Museum in 1864. In Birmingham, the Art Museum was intended to be an exemplary and inspiration for local metalworkers and other artisans.

Over the years, the Buddha statue has been displayed in a number of prominent locations throughout Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG). This statue remains as an indispensable display item and most treasured possession.

Along with this large standing Buddha statue, Harris also discovered other Buddha statues and Buddha head. Two standing Buddha statue of much smaller height carved in stone was also discovered. One of them is displayed in the British Museum and the other in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. A stone Buddha head  that was excavated by Harris is now displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Sultanganj Buddhas Statue at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

After the Sultanganj Buddha statues were brought at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, it became the centerpiece. This gallery started to display a number of Buddhas and related artifacts. Hence Birmingham started to hold an annual Buddha Day when West Midlands-based Buddhist groups from a range of traditions would bless the statue.

Later in 2015, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery worked with representatives of a number of faith groups from the city and the outcome was the creation of a new 'Faith Gallery'. Then the Sultanganj Buddha was moved from its previous location to this newly created gallery. Hence after the Sultanganj Buddha Statue is displayed in this gallery to date.

Note: FYI, we also manage huge collection of various period and regional Buddhist arts. Please feel free to visit our online Buddha statues gallery to know more about the Buddha statues for sale.

Share this page

View our collection of Buddha statues in our catalog

Bronze Nepali medicine Buddha statue

Bronze Nepali medicine Buddha statue

350 euro
Old Nepali Buddha statue

Old Nepali Buddha statue

250 euro
Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

1450 euro
Old bronze Buddha statue

Old bronze Buddha statue

850 euro
High quality Nepali gold-face Buddha statue

High quality Nepali gold-face Buddha statue

450 euro
Old Nepali Buddha statue

Old Nepali Buddha statue

500 euro
Old wooden Mandalay Buddha statue

Old wooden Mandalay Buddha statue

275 euro
High quality Nepali Buddha statue

High quality Nepali Buddha statue

1250 euro
High quality Nepali Buddha statue

High quality Nepali Buddha statue

1750 euro
Old wooden Buddha statue

Old wooden Buddha statue

450 euro
Antique Burmese Mandalay Buddha statue

Antique Burmese Mandalay Buddha statue

600 euro
Bronze Nepali Medicine Buddha statue

Bronze Nepali Medicine Buddha statue

150 euro
Old Nepali Medicine Buddha statue

Old Nepali Medicine Buddha statue

650 euro
Old bronze Samanthabadra statue

Old bronze Samanthabadra statue

1450 euro
Antique wooden Buddha statue

Antique wooden Buddha statue

850 euro
High quality Nepali gold face Buddha

High quality Nepali gold face Buddha

350 euro
Antique Nepali Vajradhara Buddha statue

Antique Nepali Vajradhara Buddha statue

950 euro
Old Nepali Buddha statue

Old Nepali Buddha statue

300 euro
Newly made Nepali Buddha on throne

Newly made Nepali Buddha on throne

700 euro
Old bronze Nepali Vajradhara statue

Old bronze Nepali Vajradhara statue

1100 euro
Old high quality Nepali Buddha statue

Old high quality Nepali Buddha statue

2600 euro
Old marble Mandalay Buddha statue

Old marble Mandalay Buddha statue

750 euro
Old bronze Aparmita Buddha statue

Old bronze Aparmita Buddha statue

375 euro
Old lavastone Buddha statue

Old lavastone Buddha statue

750 euro
Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

1250 euro
Antique Burmese Shan Buddha statue

Antique Burmese Shan Buddha statue

175 euro
Large wooden Burmese Buddha statue

Large wooden Burmese Buddha statue

2250 euro
Hand carved lavastone Buddha statue

Hand carved lavastone Buddha statue

500 euro
Old Nepali medicine Buddha statue

Old Nepali medicine Buddha statue

140 euro
Nepali bronze Aparmita Buddha

Nepali bronze Aparmita Buddha

1250 euro
arrow-right keyboard_arrow_right arrow-down keyboard_arrow_down arrow-left keyboard_arrow_left close menu search twitter facebook youtube-play linkedin envelope instagram google-plus pinterest whatsapp heart-o Wishlist share file-pdf-o printer trash