The Death of the Historical Buddha, 1713
Artist: Hanabusa Itcho (Japanese, 1652–1724)
The story of Buddhism begins with Siddhartha, a prince whose protective father shielded him from knowledge of illness, decrepitude, and death until the age of twenty-nine. The revelation that he lived in a world of pain moved Siddhartha to become a mendicant ascetic. In time he came to believe that suffering could be escaped by giving up all cravings and achieving inner peace, thereby becoming a buddha, or “awakened one.” This Japanese painting shows Siddhartha, also called Gautama Buddha, lying on a bier. In death he has found nirvana. Around him, animals, bodhisattvas, demons, and monks mourn his passing. Descending from on high are his disciple Aniruddha and his mother, Queen Maya, with attendants.
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