This is an image of the historic buddha Sakyamuni, [the enlightened One] in soapstone. Sakyamuni is the usual title given to the founder of Buddhism. He is also called the Tathagata [he who has come thus], Bhagavat [the Lord], and Sugata [well-gone]. He probably lived from 563 to 483 B.C.
Seated in vajrasana, his left hand rest in his lap and his right performs the bhumisparsamudra. With this gesture he calls the earth to witness his victory over Mara, who was the last obstacle in his attainment of perfection.
His elongated earlobes – stretched by the weight of princely jewellery in his earlier life – reflect his royal origins.
He is dressed in a monastic robe that leaves his right shoulder uncovered.