Ming Dynasty, Hongzhi Period (dated to 1499 AD)
The figure is seated above a double lotus platform in vajraparyankasana, or double lotus posture holding the bead of mala from a rosary in his right hand. His left hand rests in a meditative position on his lap in an avakasha mudra (the gesture of leisure). The figure has his eyes downturned in a meditative expression, revealing traces of white pigment and dotted eyes. He is covered in two shades of gold lacquer with traces of gilding underneath. A 23-character inscription that identifies the donor and date is found in the lower back register of the base under the lotus seat, dated to 1499 AD. It can be translated as:
‘Donated in the yi wei year (1499AD) of the Ming Dynasty by Xu Fu, a disciple of the Da Tong Fu (a site in the Sanxi Province). The bronze is cast bt Chen Xian Qing and gilded by Fang Bing.’
The medicine Buddha, known as ‘the Healing Teacher’, is the embodiment of all the healing qualities of all the Buddhas and can be invoked in the appeal for ailing health.
A dated Chenghua Shakyamuni Buddha of similar style and incised tribute of the donor was published in Ulrich von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, p. 147C