A schist figure of the Bodhisattva Shakyamuni Ancient region of Gandhara, 3rd/4th century
Lot 68W
A schist figure of the Bodhisattva Shakyamuni
Ancient region of Gandhara, 3rd/4th century
Sold for US$ 389,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
A schist figure of the Bodhisattva Shakyamuni Ancient region of Gandhara, 3rd/4th century A schist figure of the Bodhisattva Shakyamuni Ancient region of Gandhara, 3rd/4th century
A schist figure of the Bodhisattva Shakyamuni
Ancient region of Gandhara, 3rd/4th century
Superbly carved, standing with his left knee bent, the heavy robe wraps around his athletic form with dramatic folds revealing his muscular torso adorned with a wide torque, elaborate necklaces, a string of amulets, and a jewelled armlet with granulated edges, the band around his right arm concealed beneath the tightly pulled folds, his moustached face with beautifully modelled heavy-lidded eyes and a raised urna, flanked by the swirls of his hair at the temples rising into an elaborate turban with a central jewel flanked by makaras and ichthyocentaurs.
39 in. (100.2 cm.) high

Footnotes

  • Donning a luxurious turban and adornments, Gandharan figures of this type represent the Bodhisattva Shakyamuni in his princely garb. They call to mind the trappings of worldly possessions, before his impending renunciation and enlightenment.

    Leaning slightly forward with downcast eyes, the sculpture bears down on the viewer, impressing him or her with a sense of Shakyamuni's power and authority. In discussion of a closely related bust in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1987.218.10), Behrendt observes that the halo behind the bodhisattva, "marks him as a godlike being, or at least as one who inhabited the heavens prior to his final rebirth" (Behrendt, The Art of Gandhara in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007, no. 41, p. 53). These large figures reflect an important transition in Gandharan Buddhist sculpture and practice coinciding with the rise in popularity of Mahayana worship in the 3rd century, whereby the veneration of images of Buddha and bodhissatvas replaced that of the relic and stupa.

    Behrendt also argues that the technique of undercutting, which gives the present lot its crisp modelling of both the left earing and the rope of gems as it swoops underneath his right arm, supports a 4th century dating of the piece, as this detailing is absent from earlier devotional images (ibid.).

    Lastly, this sculpture is an exceptional example, with the dramatic visual contrast created by the tensions of the robe, pulled tightly in vertical and horizontal pleats around his left shoulder and arm while swooping diagonally across his thighs with the slack hems curling around his right knee.

    Provenance:
    Private collection, Switzerland
    Sotheby's, New York, 28 March 2003, lot 6
    Christie's, New York, 25 March 2004, lot 15
    Christie's, New York, 20 March 2009, lot 1233
    Property of a Private Trust
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