2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Avalokiteshvara, grey schist, private collection, photo by Christie’s.
The second most popular bodhisattva in that area, Avalokiteshvara is portrayed very much like Maitreya (an athletic young man, with a thin nose and a moustache, elegantly draped and adorned with jewellery and an elaborate head dress). He is identified through the lotus he holds – in this case between his hands.
He is adorned with necklaces, armbands, earrings, and an elaborate headdress.
This work depicts him with the same facial features and earrings, a similar headdress and overall style, a broken halo but a preserved lotus pedestal. It is a perfect illustration of the fine workmanship and harmonious proportions which the area is famous for.
Both in the Gandharan culture and posterior Swat Valley art, Avalokiteshvara is often depicted in a pensive mood, i.e. a leg pendant, his head leaning to the right, the arm resting on his knee. This unusual image shows one of his sandals on the stool on which his left foot his resting. He holds a lotus downwards in his left hand.
Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form, with a hairstyle typical of the area, holds the long stem of a lotus in his left hand and a garland in the other.