Medicine Buddha, Bhaisajyaguru
Bhaiṣajyaguru, (formally Bhaiṣajya-guru-vaiḍūrya-prabhā-rāja), "King of Medicine Master and Lapis Lazuli Light", is the Buddha of healing and medicine in Mahāyāna Buddhism and is said to dispense spiritual medicine when properly worshipped. It is also believed that an efficacious cure may be accomplished by merely touching the statue. He wears a monastic robe and is seated crossed legged on the lotus throne. His left hand lies resting on his lap in a meditation pose holding a covered vessel that is believed to contain the healing medicines. The right hand lies in a charity pose (touching the earth) and holds a branch of Myrobalan, a medicinal plant found in the northern parts of India and other tropical countries.
This figure is made of 'Panchalogam', the traditional five-metal alloys of sacred significance used for making Buddhist and Hindu temple dieties and idols. These five metals consist of gold, silver, copper, bronze and brass. The cut faceted precious and semi-precious stones abundantly adorning this intricately detailed seated Buddha are that of turquoise (embedded to represent the medicinal flower), garnets or rubies, sapphires and emeralds. The elegant and finely detailed filigree handwork in silver, gold and brass outline, encircle and emphasize the robe layout and lotus throne. The face is painted with gold to show the glow on Buddha's face which is a sign of happiness, especially when helping those in need.
This heirloom piece was in a home altar of a local Bhutanese household for generations and is claimed to date from the early 20th century (approximately a 100 years old). It measures 8.5" tall, 6.5" wide and 4" deep. I personally acquired this rare and uniquely beautiful figure recently (April, 2017) in Paro, in the Kingdom of Bhutan (locally called 'Druk Yul', "land of the thunder dragon") which is nestled 7,200 feet above sea level in the eastern Himalayas. Bhutanese people treasure and revere their natural environment and habitat like no other country I've ever had the pleasure to visit. It is seen as a source of all life and the abode of gods and benevolent spirits.
A side note regarding rare Bhutanese hand-crafted artifacts; all are exclusively made by local artisans. The most common base of the material is that of copper, bronze, gold, silver, clay, wood and yak bone. Old items in Bhutan that have no historical importance to the country or are not a property of any institution or monastic body can be used for the purpose of business. However it is important and required that each item be fully verified from the concerned agency to ensure the integrity of both the buyer and the seller. A mark or seal is provided by this agency upon successful inspection of the object. Most items are sold by families who were wealthy in past centuries and now desire funds to fulfill the modern day requirements such as education, housing and etc. The mixture of metals used in the making of these artifacts enhances the preciousness and importance of the piece and is believed that the greater combination of metals, the more valuable its hidden spiritual power.