A terracotta Gandhara Buddha head. One of the oldest Buddhas in the world. Buddha was first portrayed by Greek artists in the 2nd century in Gandhara Afghanistan/Pakistan. First especially in stone (schist) but as the demand rose, one also worked with stucco and to a lesser extent with terracotta. In the 6th century this beautiful culture was wiped out by the Huns, who destroyed and burned all stupas and monasteries. Therefore, it is not exceptional that this figurine is damaged.
Dimensions: 6 x 5.5 x 3.25 inches With stand: 9 inches tall.
Provenance: From a Canadian auction selling the estate of a French gentleman who amassed a large collection of Gandhara, Buddhas and Khmer items throughout his life.
According to tradition Buddhism was first introduced into the Gandharan region under the patronage of Asoka, emperor of the Mauryan dynasty, in the third century B.C. The first significant physical remains to survive, including stupas and figurative sculpture, date from the 1st century B.C. Between circa 100-600 AD. sculptors working in schist, terracotta and stucco produced an astonishing number and variety of Buddhist images. Gandhara was situated at the crossroads between east and west and thus came under a wide variety of artistic influences, including Persian, Greek and Indian. It also became an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from across Asia as it was claimed that events from the Buddha’s former lives had occurred in the area. This elegant Buddha head is modelled from terracotta. The hair is arranged in a top-knot, the Gandharan version of the ushnisha, a symbol of spiritual wisdom. The small protrusion on the forehead is an urna, or third eye, a mark of religious enlightenment. The elongated earlobes, damaged slightly on the right, are a reference to the former wealth of the historical Buddha. The elongation was caused by wearing heavy and ornate earrings. The mouth and aqualine nose reveal a debt to Greek models but the stylised almond shaped eyes are typical of images of the Buddha from across Asia. This merging of such diverse styles and traditions is what makes Gandharan art so unique and fascinating.