Central Asia, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan, Gandharan Empire, ca. 1st century CE. An absolutely stunning dark grey schist face with a tremendous turban-style headdress, in a beautiful state of preservation. The face is sensuously and realistically carved, with large, almond-shaped, downcast eyes, a long, thin nose, a symmetrical brow ridge, and a small mouth with a thin mustache atop it. The hair of the mustache is slightly wavy, as is the hair that peeks out from underneath the headdress. The man wears an uma, a dot on the forehead, which marks him as the young Prince Siddharta (Siddhartha), dressed in the contemporary Gandharan finery of a rajah, completely with elaborate turban. Behind his head is a large, round halo with a foliate border. Size: 6.75" L x 10.25" W x 13.5" H (17.1 cm x 26 cm x 34.3 cm); 17.65" H (44.8 cm) on included custom stand.
This is an amazing and naturalistic carving from the period of Greco-Buddhist art. The Gandharan Empire made itself wealthy in part by controlling lucrative trade along the mountain passes between China in the East and the Near East and Mediterranean in the West; a great deal of this wealth went into local patronage of artisans and art. In the first century CE, Buddhism became fashionable amongst Gandharan elites, and the art produced at this time depicting the Buddha are some of the most striking Buddhist images from the past. Their artistic tradition also reflects the conquest of Alexander the Great and the introduction of styles from all sides, blended into a uniquely Gandharan tradition, which this Buddha exemplifies. The curly hair of this sculpture and others from the same tradition were likely influenced by the Belvedere Apollo (ca. 330 BCE).
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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