Disciples of the Buddha: Maha Moggallana and Sariputta (Skt: Mahamaudgalyayana and Shariputra)

Burma (present-day Myanmar), Mandalay period (1860-1885)

Wood with red lacquer and gilt

  1. a) Maha Moggallana: 18½ × 32½ × 13¼ in. (47 ×6 × 33.7 cm)
  2. b) Sariputta: 26 × 25½ × 19 in. (66 ×8 × 48.3 cm)

Crow Museum of Asian Art of The University of Texas at Dallas, 1979.16

Piece Description:

Following the founding of the city of Mandalay in 1857, the penultimate ruler of the Burmese Konbaung dynasty, Mindon Min (1808–1878; r. 1853–1878), ushered in an era of lavish patronage. His new capital was built on the plan of a mandala, hence the name Mandalay. He built magnificent, elaborately carved palaces and temples made of wood  lavished with gold as a demonstration of his majesty as a “dharma king” (P: dhammaraja) responsible for spiritual and secular rule.  Immense teak pillars, often lacquered and gilded—gold was regarded as the substance of spirit—rose to support nested roofs, their corners turned flamboyantly upward. These two disciples of the Buddha, Maha Moggallana and Sariputta, were role models for monks whose training in monasteries covered many areas of learning.


Maha Moggallana and Sariputta were childhood friends who, in their pursuit of wisdom, followed the Buddha and became his most accomplished devotees. Moggallana is esteemed for his paranormal powers such as an ability to hear the Buddha from a great distance and to see the future. Sariputta was known for his “golden face,” his remarkable sagacity, and ability to bring others to the Buddhist path. Moggallana holds his hands together in the angali mudra of supplication, his gaze concentrated. In a less formal attitude, Sariputta torques his shoulders to offer a youthful supple profile but also to activate the open adoration of his gaze. Large dark pupils of glass are inset into the eyes.



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