A narrative relief panel
Lot 27
A relief panel with scenes from the life of Buddha Ancient Region of Gandhara, 2nd/3rd century
Sold for US$ 18,750 inc. premium
Auction Details
A narrative relief panel A narrative relief panel A narrative relief panel
Lot Details
A relief panel with scenes from the life of Buddha
Ancient Region of Gandhara, 2nd/3rd century
Separated by a central column with acanthus-leaf capital and a gana (dwarf) standing on a lotus pedestal, the relief depicts two narratives from the life of Buddha. On the left side, the pensive Bodhisattva, wearing royal tunics and a crested turban, sits under the shade of a canopy lost in meditation with his right arm supporting his forehead. A member of the court prostrates before him, whilst two broad-bodied attendants with sweet expressions tend to the royal parasols. On the right, enthroned under a textile canopy supported by slender shafts rising from two lion capitals, and wearing his hair bound in a small double loop, the Bodhisattva is seen in discussion with the surrounding figures seated on tiered thrones, the figures to his left raise their right hands in a gesture of discussion, the figures to his right clasp their hands in adoration or entreaty. The Bodhisattva, holding a flask in his left hand resting in his lap, raises his right in the gesture of reassurance.
9 x 27 in. (22.9 x 68.25 cm)

Footnotes

  • The scene on the left most likely refers to prince Siddhartha's first meditation. While surveying an annual ploughing ceremony in the sweltering heat, he observed the toil of the farmer, the bulls, the birds, and the insects, which inspired a mediation on life's sorrows.

    Discussed at length by Christian Luczanits and offering a number of comparable examples (see "The Bodhisattva with the Flask in Gandharan Narrative Scenes", in East and West vol. 55, nos. 1-4, December 2005, pp. 163-188), the scene on the right may be interpreted as either Siddhartha seated inside the palace being persuaded to take the path of Buddhahood by Indra (seated to his left) and Brahma (right) together with other gods just before his renunciation of palace life, as Buddha Shakyamuni being entreated to preach in Tushita heaven, as Maitreya seated in Tushita heaven, or as Maitreya residing in Ketumati, the fortunate future age into which he is supposed to be born, where he and the inhabitants can spend all their time discussing religious matters. As Luczanits surmises, all interpretations have their strengths and weaknesses and much hinges on the context of their depiction with other scenes. Accepting that the present example is juxtaposed with the scene of Siddhartha's first meditation, we feel that an interpretation of the devas imploring Siddhartha to take up the path of a spiritual leader is best suited.

    For an example of Siddhartha's resultant renunciation in this sale, see lot 23.

    Provenance:
    Private Californian Collection
    Collected in the late 1960s by an architect based in Rawalpindi working at the behest of Ayub Khan on the design of Islamabad.
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