Antique Wood Gilt Buddha Calling for Rain, Laos

About the Item

Buddhas carved in Laos are renowned for their exquisite and delicate portrayal of the “Enlightened One”. This finely carved antique Buddha is depicted in a gesture (mudra) found only in Laos, referred to as “Calling for Rain” or “Calling the Rain Over a Kingdom Affected by Drought” where he stands upright with his hands held outwards and symmetrically at his side fingers pointing to the ground. The hem of his monk’s robe flares out decoratively, almost touching his fingers. His half-shut almond-shaped eyes gaze downward in meditation. The figure is delicately portrayed with rounded pendant arms mirroring and reinforcing the graceful curves of the body. His narrow hips, elegant gestures, and slim elongated hands with long slender fingers of equal length enhance the gentleness of the Buddha. The totality of the curvature and proportion indicate the perfection of the “Enlightened One”. He wears the ticivara, the three-part robe of a monk consisting of an upper robe (uttarasanga), a lower robe (antaravasaka), and the diagonal outer robe (sanghati) that falls to just above his ankles. The image stands on an unusually high multi-tiered and round waisted base, which is as tall as the carved image itself reflecting one of the widely accepted canons in Buddhist art in Laos that a high pedestal reflects a deep and unwavering respect for the Buddha. It is in very good condition with an age crack on the pedestal which does not compromise the integrity of the piece. Carved Laotian images as elegant as this are extremely rare.


Somkiart Lopetcharat, Lao Buddha: The Image and Its History, Bangkok, Siam International Book Company, Ltd, 2000.

K.I. Matics, Gestures of the Buddha, Chulalongkorn University Press, Bangkok, 2001.


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Product: Antique Wood Gilt Buddha Calling for Rain, Laos
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-Vanishing Arts Gallery


This delicately carved image of the Buddha from the latter part of the 2nd Classic Period (1827-1893) in Northern Laos reflects many of the artistic traditions of the Golden Age of Lao art (1520-1777) and adheres to the tenets of Theravada Buddhism practiced throughout Southeast Asia. Guidelines and proscriptions on how to represent the Buddha were recorded in ancient Buddhist texts which state that the Buddha should have an egg-shaped head and face, eyebrows like a drawn bow, a nose like the beak of an eagle, and smooth round arms like elephant tusks. Following these canons, Buddha’s hairline is curved, as are the highly arched eyebrows that meet at the bridge of the nose, full lips are drawn in a slight pucker portraying a peaceful and serene expression,hair curls are individual and discrete, and extended ear lobes are shaped like snail shells. Buddha has a distinctive flame-like finial emerging from his ushnisha (the fleshy protuberance that indicates his status as an enlightened being) atop his head representing his fiery energy or explosive spiritual power. An old Laotian custom has been to fire bamboo rockets into the sky at the end of the dry season in a plea for rain, which compliments this depiction of the Buddha, as the position of this Buddha image seems to symbolize upward flight.

Additional information

Place of Origin



Antique (1200-1920)


Laos 2nd Classical Period (1827-1893)

Materials and Technique

Wood, polychrome, gilt and/or lacquer

Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 24.5” Dia: 7”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 62.23cm Dia: 17.78cm


Very good, see description

Reference Number



6lbs 3oz

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