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Jonathan Tucker and Antonia Tozer

Northwest Pakistan
2nd c. - 3rd c.
W. 59 cms, 23 ¼ ins ; H. 22.8 cms, 9 ins

A schist relief, once the base of a statue base, with two Corinthian columns framing a preaching Bodhisattva surrounded by devotees; a monk and two male figures in Parthian dress standing to his right while two female figures and a youth in Parthian dress stand to his left, all but the monk holding palm fronds.

This relief was originally a plinth for a freestanding statue of a Bodhisattva. The central Bodhisattva figure could be either Siddhartha or Maitreya - in this instance, the identifying attributes are missing because the principal image above would have been easily recognisable. The differences in appearance of the surrounding figures represent the universal accessibility of Buddhist teaching. Essentially, the scene was intended to remind the viewer of the philosophy underlying the statue that stood above, as well as the need for study and self-denial, regardless of one�s social status.

For similar compositions, see no. 285 in H. Ingholt, Gandharan Art in Pakistan, New York, 1957 and nos. 44-53 in I. Kurita, Gandharan Art I: The Buddha�s Life Story, Tokyo: Nigensha Publishing, 2003. For a freestanding image similar to the central figure, see no. 70 in W. Zwalf, A Catalogue of the Gandhara Sculpture in the British Museum, London: British Museum Press, 1996.

all text, images � Jonathan Tucker and Antonia Tozer


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