Buddhas with concentric rows of curls

6th century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, photo by Christie's

6th century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, copper alloy with silver inlay, photo by Christie’s.

6th c., Gandhara, Shakyamuni, bronze, 16,5 cm head

 

There is a small number of bronze buddhas from the late Gandhara period that do not follow the standard greco-buddhist aesthetics. Their hair consists in concentric semi-circular rows of curls, they have oblique elongated eyes and thick lips.

6th century, Gandhara or Swat Valley, bronze with silver inlaid eyes,

6th century, Gandhara, Afghanistan or Swat Valley, bronze with silver inlaid eyes, at the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, UK).

6th c., Gandhara, Afghanistan, Shakyamuni, bronze, 10,5 cm, back

The above sculpture has incised semi-circular rows of curls that match the semi-circular pleats of the garment except for the last part of the back, which matches the vertical back pleats of the robe.

6th century, probably Gandhara, Pakistan, copper alloy, published by Rossi & Rossi

6th century, probably Gandhara, Pakistan, copper alloy, published by Rossi & Rossi

This one has different facial features but the same hairstyle and robe arrangement.

8th century, Swat Valley or Jammu and Kashmir, Shakyamuni, bronze, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

8th century, labelled “Swat Valley or Jammu and Kashmir”, Shakyamuni, bronze, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

This singular buddha, with elongated eyebrows and very slanted silver-inlaid eyes, sits on a double-lotus base similar to the first 6th century sculpture above. The design recalls the typical Swat Valley “artichoke-leaf” pedestals but the petals are broader and rounder. The concentric rows of hair curls on his head don’t go across his chignon but around it. The pleats of his robe form concentric folds, the neck is incised in a fancy wavy shape. He wears a celestial scarf across his back, over his arms and across his shins. The scarf ends in an elaborate pattern of pleats that matches the tail end of his outer garment which is laid over the lotus base, in the Chinese fashion. His dhoti is arranged in a circular shape in front of him.

 

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