Artist: Unknown (Cambodian)
Title: Sheltered Naga Buddha, 1100s

56 1/2 x 22 in. (143.5 x 55.9 cm)
Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.    71.331

This sculpture represents Buddha as he meditates in a lotus position. He does this to achieve enlightenment, which means “awakening.” The story of Buddha starts when he was a young prince named Siddhartha Gautama. As a child, he was not allowed to go outside the palaces, so he did not see those who were less fortunate. As an adult, he left the palaces and saw suffering for the first time. Siddhartha traveled to many places looking for a way to stop this suffering. He meditated beneath a bodhi tree to search for the answer. While he meditated, the king of snakes spread his cobra hood to protect Siddhartha from the rain. After he found his answer, he spent the rest of his life trying to help those who were less fortunate.  Because of this, Siddhartha became known as Buddha, or “enlightened one.”