Indian and Himalayan Art
Head of a BodhisattvaProbably made in Pakistan, South Asia, Asia
or made in Afghanistan, Asia
Mid- 2nd - early 3rd century
Artist/maker unknown, Gandharan
1921-38-5Purchased with the Annual Membership Fund, 1921
LabelWell before 326 B.C., when Alexander the Great's Greek army conquered areas north and west of India (parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan), cultural and commercial ties had been established between the Gandhara region of Pakistan-Afghanistan and the ancient Mediterranean world. Communication between these areas flourished throughout the following millennium. This Buddhist sculpture of the Gandhara region shows Greco-Roman influence in a number of characteristics, including the facial features, heavy naturalistic drapery, and ornaments. The hair of the image finds its prototype in a Greco-Roman image of the god Apollo, the so-called Apollo Belvedere-type. This head probably belonged to an over-life-sized standing or seated figure of a Bodhisattva (one who has reached perfection but postpones his own liberation to help others).
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