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Theresa McCullough

Torso of Buddha Sakyamuni
Northern India, Kushan Period, Mathura
2nd c.
red sandstone
Height: 62 cm (24 1/2 ins) Width Max 76 cm (30 ins)

A red sandstone torso of Buddha Sakyamuni with the remains of a large loti-form nimbus at the back of the neck and wearing a sanghati (monastic robe) draped over the left shoulder and gathered into tight parallel pleats on the upper arm. The body is well defined with a deeply carved navel giving the impression of a fleshy body.

This beautiful sculpture is the torso of a seated Buddha and one of the first images of Buddha in anphropomorphic form, a departure from previous images of aniconic symbols.

Mathura, the capital of the Kushan Empire, is situated on the right bank of the Yamuna River, a tributary of the Ganges approximately 150 km south of Delhi in Uttar Pradesh. It sat on a junction of India's trade routes and by the 1st century AD was a thriving religious and commercial centre the importance of which can be summarised by Ptolemy�s description of it as 'City of Gods'. Early Indian texts state that the inhabitants lived by trade rather than by agriculture which also indicates the importance of its position on the trade routes.

Mathura sculpture is typically produced from mottled red sandstone quarried locally and is characterised by fleshy, full figured human forms both religious and secular.

Published: Spink and Son Ltd, Treasures from the Silk Road, 1999, cat no. 2.

Provenance: US private collection since 1999.


Czuma, S.; Kushan Sculpture: Images from Early India, Cleveland, 1985, figs 12 - 15.

Kimbell Art Museum; In Pursuit of Quality, Fort Worth, 1987, p.111.

all text, images � Theresa McCullough


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