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Lot 0096
Northwest Pakistan, ancient region of Gandhara, ca. 4th to 5th century CE. A finely carved and skillfully stuccoed stone head of Buddha presenting a sensitively modeled visage comprised of solemn half-closed eyes of an elegant almond shape, a long naturalistic nose, and a gentle smile. The Buddha's facial planes are veristically contoured, this realistic quality complemented by details such as the fleshy cheeks and soft rounded chin. Traces of paint color the stuccoed complexion and curled coiffure topped by an ushnisha. This technique shows stylistic affinities with the early stucco production from Ghandaran sites, particularly Taxila. A rare example of Greco-Buddhist art that demonstrates a strong syncretism between eastern and western traditions. Size: 5.25" W x 8.25" H (13.3 cm x 21 cm); 12.375" H (31.4 cm) on included custom stand.

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. The stylized curly Mediterranean hair and top knot derive from classical sculptures such as the Apollo Belvedere (330 BCE), and the sensitive modeling of the expressive visage demonstrates a classical influence as well.

The head of the Buddha is perhaps the most significant element of the deity as it represents the immense body of knowledge and wisdom of Buddha along with the tranquil nature that emanates from his expression. What's more, in this example the sculptor's adept modelling technique allows for a moving spiritual interpretation as opposed to other comparatively colder, stiffer renderings. A peaceful countenance with a rounded ushnisha symbolizing the wisdom and knowledge acquired after attaining enlightenment, and elongated ears, a physical feature symbolic of the Buddha's time as a prince when he wore elaborate ear ornaments to demonstrate wealth and prosperity. Of course, the prince stopped wearing them when he left the palace to become an ascetic; however, his earlobes remained stretched signifying a conscious decision to reject the material world in exchange for spiritual enlightenment and simultaneously suggest that the Buddha can hear all that is asked for and needed in the earthly world. The dot on the forehead represents the third eye and wisdom. Buddha's full mouth signifies his gift of eloquent speech. Those half-closed eyes indicate a meditative state - at once looking both outward and inward. Furthermore, the curled, short hair of the Buddha signifies the nobility of Buddha. Beyond the multi-layered meaning embodied in the iconography of this piece, the sculptor's artistry and technique is exceptional.

Provenance: private S.H. collection, Santa Clara, California, USA; acquired from J. Bajot Gallery

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A section from a larger sculpture. Losses to tips of ears, back of head, and peripheries as shown. Surface wear commensurate with age, but the head still shows nice remains of pigment and stucco.

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Superb Gandharan Stuccoed Stone Buddha Head

Estimate $12,000 - $15,000Oct 12, 2017
686 S. Taylor Avenue Suite 106
Louisville, CO 80027
United States
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