Gandhara Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Statuette
A finely carved grey schist Gandhara high relief, depicting the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, which translates to “Lord who looks down with compassion”. The figure is portrayed regally seated in a pensive and meditative position. He raises his right hand slightly, while gently bending his left arm to hold what looks like to be a lotus flower downwards. In rare depictions, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is portrayed holding a sacred water flask, known as Kamandalu, which is usually an attribute of Buddha Maitreya. The figure’s robe falls in gentle folds and covers his left shoulder, leaving his masculine torso bare. The Bodhisattva is pictured bejewelled, wearing elaborate necklaces, heavy earrings dangling from his earlobes and an embellished headpiece featuring a small stupa. His moustached-face is serene, and features downcast eyes, a strong aquiline nose, and bow-shaped lips. The Bodhisattva is modelled in classical Gandharan style, with much attention given towards facial and anatomical features, rendered in an idealised naturalistic manner, and displays several of the characteristic auspicious marks, Laksanas. These include the forehead mark, Urna, and the plain halo behind the figure’s head. The statuette was likely once part of a large-scale narrative panel modelled in high relief: the flat surface on the reverse indicates that the head was attached to a surface behind it, rather than free standing.
Circa 2nd-4th ADCondition:
Fine, part of the right leg is missing. Signs of encrustations to the surface.Mounted on a custom-made stand ideal for display.
Gandhara was an ancient region, once located in an area between modern-day Pakistan and Afghanistan, to which a wide range of Buddhist stone sculptures with strong Hellenistic and Roman aesthetic features are attributed. Gandharan reliefs and statuettes of Buddhist immortals are famous for their harmonious combination of the local religious spiritual concepts and the idealised naturalistic styles of classical sculptures of Greek and Roman art. Gandharan art of this period, circa 2nd-4th AD, is almost exclusively Buddhist, and features depiction in high relief of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, usually attached to the walls of religious and domestic shrines. Within Buddhism, the term bodhisattva generally refers to as an enlightened being who is going to become Buddha. Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara appears in Gandharan art portrayed similarly to Bodhisattva Maitreya, and he is usually identified through the lotus flower he holds.
To discover more about Gandharan Buddahs, please visit our relevant blog post: Understanding Gandharan Buddha Poses and Postures.