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Arts of Asia

The MFAH collections of art from China, India, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia reflect Houston’s diverse communities. Ancient and contemporary works are displayed together to create innovative juxtapositions.


Buddha of Healing (Bhaisajyaguru)
12th century

9 3/4 x 7 3/8 x 3 3/4 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided by the Museum Collectors, Joan and Stanford Alexander, Margaret Alkek, Ann and John Bookout III, Billye J. Bowman, Terry Ann Brown, Leslie and Brad Bucher, Mr. and Mrs. Peter R. Coneway, Michael W. Dale, Ellena P. Dickerson, Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Dunkum III, Carol and Dave Fleming, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred C. Glassell, Jr., Dr. Margaret Ann Goldstein, Frank J. Hevrdejs, Marjorie G. Norning, Cecily E. Horton, Kathryn and Jim Ketelsen, Mrs. William J. Kilroy, Mr. and Mrs. William B. McNamara, Diane and John Riley, Mrs. Henry K. Roos, Mr. and Mrs. Robert P. Ross, Jr., Donald and Shirley Rose, Steven W. Sanders, Mr. and Mrs. Richard P. Schissler, Jr., Donna S. Scott, Mr. and Mrs. Timothy J. Unger, Mr. and Mrs. W. Temple Webber, Jr., the Abe and Rae Weingarten Fund, and the Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Family Foundation in recognition of the 25th Anniversary of the Museum Collectors

Arts of Asia

Bronze casting became widely practiced in Cambodia during the Angkorean period, which extended from the 9th century to the 13th century. This figure of Bhaisajyaguru, the buddha of healing, was created during the reign of the Hindu emperor Jayavarman VII, who ruled Cambodia from 1181 to 1219. Bhaisajyaguru is identifiable by the medicine jar in his hand.

In Cambodia, buddhas and bodhisattvas were usually depicted richly dressed. This representation of Bhaisajyaguru wears elaborately crafted armbands and necklaces. Long delicately wrought earrings hang from his pronounced earlobes, and his arms and legs are decorated with bracelets and anklets. The style of his pointed crown began to appear frequently in Cambodian Buddhist sculpture during the 12th century.

The figure sits in a meditative position with one leg resting upon the other. Unique to Cambodian Buddhist sculpture, this pose differs from Indian Buddhist sculpture, in which a figure's legs are usually crossed at the ankles. The figure of Bhaisajyaguru is finished on all sides, suggesting it was intended to serve as a chala chitra, a portable object used for worship.