Northwest Pakistan, Gandharan, ca. 2nd to 3rd century CE. A finely carved, grey schist relief panel representing Kanishka the Great (128-151), the emperor of the Kushan dynasty in the 2nd century famous for his political achievements, military might, spiritual, and cultural endeavors. Kanishka was a strong proponent of Buddhism and under his rule the Buddhist faith spread to Central Asia and the Far East. Hence this sculptural representation depicts Kanishka as a warrior wielding an intimidating spear, but also as a spiritual being with a Buddhist mandorla framing his head and a petite Buddhist spiritual attendant or perhaps bodhisattva at his side. This figure is reminiscent of those in the Buddhist trilogy (Brahma and Indra flanking the seated Buddha) upon Kanishka's reliquary casket at the British Museum. (See http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=182107&partId=1) Stylistically, the attention to the drapery, the sinuous, wavy Mediterranean hair, as well as the sensitive modeling of figure's faces demonstrates a great classical influence. Alexander the Great conquered Gandhara in 330 BCE and with the help of the Indo-Greek kings introduced classical traditions that would influence Gandharan art for the following seven centuries. A rare example of Greco-Buddhist art that demonstrates a strong syncretism between eastern and western traditions. Custom mount. Size: sculpture itself measures 6.5" W x 11" H (16.5 cm x 27.9 cm), on stand 6.5" W x 11.5" H (16.5 cm x 29.2 cm)
Provenance: Ex - Private New Jersey collection formed before 1990
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