Swat Valley or Kashmir?

8th century, Swat Valley or Kashmir, brass with silver inlay, Maitreya, photo by Christie's.

8th century, Swat Valley or Kashmir, brass with silver inlay, Maitreya, photo by Christie’s.

This sculpture has been prudently labelled “Swat Valley or Kashmir” by Christie’s expert because it has characteristics from both areas. On one hand, the use of brass is a lot more common among Kashmiri sculptures and so is the hairstyle. On the other, the double-lotus base without a plinth or flat sheet of metal below is not usual in Kashmir, nor is the punched navel and flat abdomen (as opposed to a lobed abdomen with a cruciform navel). But the way the lower garment is pleated at the front seems to be a particular feature of the Swat Valley area and it is therefore more likely the place of origin of the sculpture.

8th century

8th century, Kashmir or Swat Valley, brass with silver inlay, Avalokiteshvara, photo by Christie’s

Inversely, the double-lotus base of this sculpture with no plinth or flat piece of metal below, and the way the pectorals are indicated with two curves are unusual for the Kashmir area, where torsoes are usually life-like, but the cruciform navel and the flaming arch behind the bodhisattva are proper to the Kashmir region.

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