Gandhara, the radiating mandorla

Between the 5th and 7th centuries a number of  copper alloy sculptures of the historical buddha produced in the Gandhara area, or in the Kashmir and Swat Valley area but following the Gandhara style, included what is often referred to as a mandorla with radiating spokes, The design consists in a row of beading and a row of ‘spikes’ made of an oblong piece (thought to be a lotus petal) topped with three precious jewels known as triratna, the overall impression being of sunlight radiating from the buddha.

5th-6th century, Gandhara, Pakistan, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, The Buckingham Collection.

5th-6th century, Gandhara, Pakistan, Shakyamuni, copper alloy with silver-inlaid eyes, The Buckingham collections.

Same as before.

Same as before.

The inner part of the back plate is often decorated with a sheaf design. The spikes on the above mandorlas consist in a floral design from shoulder to feet level.  The robe of the buddha has transversal then concentric folds and ends in a round shape at the front.

Late 6th century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

Late 6th century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

This is a simpler mandorla with the same design all along the outer edge and a plain aureole. The body proportions are more harmonious although the head is a little large compared to the rest of the body. The draping of the robe follows the greco-buddhist style.

6th century, same as before.

6th century, same as before.

This buddha has more harmonious proportions but a very similar dress arrangement. Originally, it was probably on a plinth and with a spiked mandorla at the back.

5th-6th century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, copper alloy,

5th-6th century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, bronze, at the Royal Ontario Museum.

This image, like the ones below, still has its plinth and back panel (mandorla)

6th century circa, Gandhara, Pakistan, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, at the Victoria & Albert Museum (London, UK).

6th century circa, Gandhara, Pakistan, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, at the Victoria & Albert Museum (London, UK).

This mandorla  reaches to the feet of the figure and the top of the arch is decorated with a tall spike.

6th century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni

6th century, Gandhara style, Pakistan, Shakyamuni, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

Occasionally, the nimbus and the rest of the back plate are overlapping. The aureole on this rare work is decorated with a rich floral and foliate design. The buddha has very large hair curls that contrast with his fine facial features.

6th-7th century, Gandhara style, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, photo by Christie's.

6th-7th century, Gandhara style, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, photo by Christie’s.

6th-7th c., Gandhara, Shakyamuni, bronze, nimbus, aureole with geese+jewels detail

This is another rare mandorla, decorated with flying geese on the inside, some of them with a strand of jewels in their beak.

7th century circa, Gandhara style, possibly made in Kashmir, young Shakyamuni, copper alloy, photo by Christie's.

7th century circa, Gandhara style, possibly made in Kashmir, young Shakyamuni, copper alloy with silver-inlaid eyes, photo by Christie’s.

7th c. cir. Gandhara or K., young buddha, bronze+sil., moon crescents7th c. cir. Gandhara or K., young buddha, bronze+sil. close up

This rare sculpture depicts the historical buddha as a child or teenager, dressed in a short dhoti. The nimbus includes three moon crescents, one a the top of the arch and one on each side at ear level. The aureole is decorated with a lotus flowers and buds vine motif.

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