The Story of the Hare (Sasakaavadana)

19th century

Object Place: Tibet/China


132 x 76.5 cm (51 15/16 x 30 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Distemper on cotton

Not On View





Painting without decorative borders, possibly originally in thangka format.

Avadanas are moralistic tales told by the Buddha in which he, in a past life as a Bodhisattva, is the main protagonist. Here the Buddha was born as a hare (shashaka) who preached to jackals and a monkey. To test his moral strenghth, Indra, in the guise of an old man, demands food from the hare. Having nothing else to give, the Buddha-to-be leapt into a blazing fire and made an offering of his own flesh. A seated Shakyamuni is the central figure of the composition. Sakyamuni sits cross-legged on lotus throne, making bhumi-sparsa and dhyana mudras. He is surrounded by scenes from his life and other stories. Chinese style. All set in verdant landscape. Part of set with 26.242. Small gold inscriptions identidying scenes.


1926, Denman Waldo Ross, Cambridge, MA; 1926, gift of Ross to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 2, 1926)

Credit Line

Denman Waldo Ross Collection