Gilgit, seated buddha with attendants

8th century (715 AD), ancient kingdom of Gilgit, Shakyamuni, brass with silver and copper inlay, private collection.

8th century (715 AD), ancient kingdom of Gilgit, Shakyamuni, brass with silver and copper inlay, private collection.

This masterpiece depicts the historical buddha seated in the “European fashion” (both legs pendant) with his feet resting on lotus flowers, on a throne supported by lions over a lotus base with flat pointed petals, itself over a plinth imitating a rocky formation, with kneeling donors at the front corners, all of which forms a composition typical of the area. Other noticeable features are the very regular pleating of the garments, the shape of the crowns and their broad, flat, wavy ribbons, the multiple lotus flowers used as adornments, the V-shaped neck with tassels of his upper garment (seen before on 7th-8th century sculptures labelled “Kashmir”), the facial features with heavy-lidded eyes, broad forehead, plum cheeks and a small chin. The buddha is not only crowned but also adorned with princely jewellery like a bodhisattva, a feature common among Gilgit and  Swat Valley area sculptures. He is flanked by two kashmir-style bodhisattvas, Avalokiteshvara Padmapani to his left and probably Maitreya to his right. On the tier below there is a standing figure and, further down, the kneeling donors – King Nandi Vikramadityadeva and  his queen – identified through the inscription at the front.

 

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