Gandhara, Maitreya (8)

APART FROM THIS POST ON GANDHARA, A NEW PAGE CALLED ‘ATTRIBUTES WORN ON THE HEAD’ HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE PAGE SECTION OF THIS BLOG

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3rd century, Gandhara, Maitreya, schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s

This athletic (though rather short-legged) male figure with a moustache and long wavy hair gathered in a topknot is identified as Maitreya by the ritual water pot he holds by the neck. He wears princely jewellery, a string of amulet boxes, a pleated lower garment, a scarf or shawl, and sandals. His missing hand would having been in the fear-allaying gesture as below.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Maitreya, schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s

It is the first time we come across such a hair arrangement partly covering the beaded headband. The bodhisattva‘s nimbus includes two kneeling figures and he stands on a pedestal decorated with a scene involving a seated figure with a water pot in his hands (possibly himself?) and two devotees.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Maitreya, schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s

The future buddha often makes the ‘turning the wheel of dharma’ gesture with his hands.

3rd-5th century, Gandhara, Maitreya, schist, private collection, photo on Cornette de Saint Cyr

We have seen various figures seated on this type of lotus seat, with their legs locked, their garment draped in a similar way, and the sole of their feet showing. Apart from a beaded band that keeps his mass of curls together, the above wears circular hair ornaments. He has a youthful face with no moustache, and holds a water pot by the neck in his hands clasped in the gesture of meditation.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Maitreya, schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s .

The absence of an elaborate headdress suggests that this young man with long curly hair partly gathered in a hair bun is Maitreya, his right hand making the fear-allaying gesture, the other resting on his knee in a singular way. He is flanked by devotees. Compare with prince Siddhartha (labelled ‘buddha’) here .

4th-6th century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 9474 lot 4.

An interesting image that depicts Maitreya, identified by the ritual water pot he holds by the neck, with most of his chest covered with his upper garment and two necklaces only, not string of amulet boxes. As usual, part of his hair is tied in a topknot.

Gandhara, bodhisattvas with flowers

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, schist, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s

According to the auction house, there is a lion’s head on the crest of this princely figure, who emerges from foliage a bodhi tree. This suggests that we are looking at prince Siddhartha, who carries a load of flower heads in his scarf.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s.

Siddhartha again, seated on a lotus and flanked by lotuses emerging from the base, his legs locked, his hands in the gesture of meditation, most of his chest covered by his upper garment. He wears two necklaces but no string of amulet boxes.

2nd-4th century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, schist, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s, Paris

This seated figure with a bunch of lotuses in his left hand and a folded garland in the other is probably Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani (‘lotus bearer’) form, although one would expect him to wear a turban rather the double topknot and beaded headband often seen on sculptures of Maitreya. He sits with his ankles crossed, his feet placed on a small footstool near which two tiny figures are standing.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, schist, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s

Identified as Avalokiteshvara by Edward Wilkinson on Bonhams, this bodhisattva holds the same type of garland in his left hand.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Padmapani (Avalokiteshvara), schist, photo on wikimedia, at the Museo d’Arte Orientale in Turin (Italy).

The (somewhat unnatural) position of his left leg draws our attention not only to his empty sandal on the platform but also to the small figure below his knee. A second attendant stands below the large lotus in his left hand. A row of six-petal lotuses adorns the plinth.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s

The lotus in his hands makes it likely for this character to be Avalokiteshvara too. He is seated on a cushion atop a throne covered with a cloth, his bare chest adorned with the full range of Gandharan neck ornaments, including a necklace that goes over the right shoulder and a string of amulet boxes that goes across the breast.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, schist, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s.

Here there is a basket full of flowers in the man’s left hand (and he may have held a lotus in the other?).

Gandhara, Vajrapani (4)

Circa 2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, buddha with attendant, schist, private collection, photo on lot-art.

Usually depicted as an elderly attendant with long hair and a beard (in Gandharan art), Vajrapani often stands near the historical buddha. The above holds a large vajra sceptre upright in his left hand, now broken.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, two male figures, grey schist, private collection, photo on Lempertz.

This curious scene, described by the auction house as ‘Vajrapani and man bent forward’ shows Vajrapani with a triangular abdomen and a triangular vajra sceptre next to him, holding a round object in his right hand and supporting the roof with the other, in the way yakshas often support a throne.

3rd-4th century, Gandhara, Vajrapani (detail), schist, private collection, photo on catawiki.

3rd-4th century, Gandhara, Standing Buddha with Vajrapani and an Ascetic, schist, private collection, photo on catawiki.

A minute Vajrapani stands at the feet of the Buddha, looking towards him and clutching his main attribute in his left hand.

3rd-4th century probably, Gandhara, ‘scene from the life of Buddha’, schist, private collection, photo on Uppsala.

Standing at the opposite end of the Buddha, a young and athletic Vajrapani stands hand on hip, holding an upright vajra sceptre in his right hand. He has a thin moustache and a goatee and wears a headband around his thick curls.

Gandhara, prince Siddhartha (2)

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Siddhartha, grey schist, private collection, photo on Artcurial.

A fragment, possibly from ‘the great departure’ scene, featuring Prince Siddhartha holding an umbrella and the reins of his horse in his left hand and a vessel in the other. He wears princely attire, a turban, some earrings, and has a plain nimbus behind his head.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Siddhartha, grey schist, private collection, photo on ancientcoinage.

When depicted as a bodhisattva Prince Siddhartha wears a lower garment, a scarf, an elaborate headdress consisting in a turban and a hair ornament, princely jewellery. He sits with his legs locked and his hand are often held in the gesture of meditation.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, schist, private collection, item 25.267 at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore (USA).

The absence of a lotus in his hands makes it likely for this young man to be Siddhartha. He is seated on a richly decorated throne and has a radiating solar disc attached to his shoulders. Like the previous character (and the next one), he only has two necklaces and no amulet box across his chest.

Undated, Gandhara, Siddhartha?, (labelled ‘seated deity with one attendant’), black stone, private collection, photo on Eldred’s.

An interesting sculpture of a princely figure seated on a cushion atop a bed of grass, his hands clasped, his garment covering part of his chest but leaving the arms bare. The small figure next to him holds an object in his right hand (a vajra sceptre or something else?).

Gandhara, Shakyamuni

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, grey schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s, Amsterdam .

The pleats of this robust buddha’s robe are so finely rendered that they look almost like real cloth. He has a strangely sullen face, with slanted eyes and a droopy mouth, individually modelled snail-like hair curls, a large raised urna on his forehead. His seat is supported by lotus columns. The scene at the front features him seated with his hands in the preaching gesture, flanked by four attendants; a water pot is placed at each end.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s, Amsterdam .

Another sturdy buddha, with very large hands, a broad face, thick wavy hair gathered in a bun, holding a piece of his robe and making the fear-allaying gesture.

3rd century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s, Amsterdam .

Some Gandharan works depict Shakyamuni with a moustache. The above is seated on a cushion atop a draped throne supported by two lions.

4th-5th century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, stucco, private collection, photo on Christie’s, Amsterdam .

A different style, with a happier expression, both hands cupped in the gesture of meditation.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s

Standing with both feet on lotus flowers, his elongated left arm holding a piece of his pleated sanghati against his knee, this buddha with a fleshy face and wavy hair has a solar nimbus attached to his shoulders.

Undated, Gandhara, standing Buddha, schist, private collection, photo on catawiki .

Standing on a double-lotus base with shorter petals on the bottom row.

3rd-5th century, Gandhara, standing Buddha, bronze with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo on lot-art .

A rare bronze example of Shakyamuni standing on a square pedestal supported by two lions (of which very little remains, unfortunately).

Gandhara, bodhisattvas (7)

3rd century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s, Amsterdam .

This character’s turban and the absence of a water pot in his hands point to prince Siddhartha. Christie’s draw our attention to his moustache and his lion-shaped earrings, and we will note that he has no string with amulet boxes across his chest, and that his shawl covers both shoulders.

3rd century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, schist, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 2687 lot 8, Amsterdam.

A princely figure, probably Siddhartha, seated under a bodhi tree on a large lotus with a kneeling devotee on each side, flanked by two standing attendants and two kneeling figures (possibly the deities Indra, with a round cap, and Brahma, with an ascetic’s topknot), adorned with a turban and the usual jewellery and string of amulets.

3rd century, Gandhara, Maitreya, schist, item 7.1997 at the Art Gallery NSW.

This rare work depicts a bodhisattva seated on a wicker throne with one of his legs in the air, his sandal still on the footstool, and holding a water pot in the palm of his left hand while the right hand is placed against his cheek to portray him a pensive mood (usually associated with Avalokiteshvara).

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, probably Maitreya, schist, at the Seattle Art Museum (USA).

While the hairstyle makes it unlikely for this standing figure to be Avalokiteshvara, the angle of the broken arms corresponds to Maitreya, whose right hand would be in the fear allaying gesture and the other holding a water pot by the neck. He stands on a pedestal supported by columns and decorated with large lotus flowers at the sides, and a scene at the front featuring a seated figure (either himself or Shakyamuni), a kneeling devotee, two standing attendants.

3rd-4th century, Gandhara, buddha Shakyamuni with bodhisattvas, schist, private collection, photo and full description on Christie’s .

This scene under the bodhi tree depicts Shakyamuni, with his hands in the preaching gesture, flanked by Maitreya to his right, his hair arranged in a topknot, and Avalokiteshvara on the other side, wearing a turban and a hair ornament with an effigy of Amitabha. In the background we can see the Hindu deities Brahma, with his hair in a topknot and dressed like an ascetic, and Indra, with a spectacular headdress and princely attire.

Circa 2nd-5th century, Gandhara, possibly Vajrapani, schist, private collection, photo on Cornette de Saint Cyr

Gandhara, Maitreya (7)

1st-2nd century, Gandhara, Maitreya, stone, at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India).

In Gandharan art the future buddha usually holds a ritual water pot by the neck in his left hand and wears his hair gathered in a topknot held in place with a beaded band.

Circa 2nd century, Gandhara, Maitreya, stone, from Loriyan Tangai, photo as before, item 4956/A23194 at the Indian Museum, Kolkata (India).

He wears princely jewellery (large earrings, three necklaces, armbands, bracelets), a string of amulet boxes, a shawl worn on the left shoulder and arm, across the lap, and over the right elbow.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Maitreya, schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s, Amsterdam .

He often sits on a lotus base, with his legs locked in the vajra position.

3rd-4th century, Gandhara, Maitreya and devotees, grey schist, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 18241 lot 612.The above is seated on a throne with his ankles crossed and his feet placed on a small stool below.

3rd-5th century, Gandhara, Maitreya, schist, private collection, photo on lot-art .

Maitreya standing on a lotus pedestal, his right hand dispelling fear, the left one holding a water pot (nearly always shaped like a lotus bud).

Gandhara, prince Siddhartha

3rd-4th century, Gandhara, Siddhartha (labelled ‘Buddha’), schist, private collection, photo on Catawiki .

Prince Siddhartha seated under the bodhi tree, his hands in the gesture of meditation, adorned with jewellery and a distinctive headdress consisting in a turban and a fan-shaped ornament with a tapering tenon, his throne decorated with a fire altar scene.

Undated, Gandhara, bodhisattva Siddhartha, schist, published by H. Hargreaves, photo on Peshawar Museum (Pakistan).

3rd-4th century, Gandhara, Siddhartha and adorants, green schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s .

Standing under a parasol, flanked by two adorants, one with the look of an ascetic and the other with a princely appearance (an allusion to Brahma and Indra?), and, behind him, Vajrapani with his attribute in his right hand, and a princely character with a fly whisk on the other side.

2nd-4th century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, green schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s as before, lot 623.

A similar depiction, without attendants.

His headdress is the same as Avalokiteshvara’s, although the latter may have an effigy of Amitabha at the front instead of the tenon.

3rd century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, possibly Siddhartha schist, at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada).

We saw this statue before but not a close up of the tenon, which depicts a figure standing on two rearing horses.

2nd-4th century, Gandhara, The Great Departure, schist, photo and details on The Victoria & Albert Museum (London, UK).

Prince Siddhartha riding out of Kapilavastu, surrounded by various figures among which Vajrapani, identified by the large vajra sceptre in his left hand, and Mara, trying to prevent him from leaving.

Late 2nd century, Gandhara, The Great Departure, schist, photo on maa , at the Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri (USA).

The figures below are there to soften the sound of the horse’s hooves and ensure a silent departure.

Circa 3rd century, Gandhara, The Great Departure, stone, photo on buddhistdoor at the Indian Museum of Kolkata (India).

On this and the previous image a devotee holds a parasol above the prince’s head.

3rd-4th century, Gandhara, The Great Departure, schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s .

Gandhara, winged atlas figures

APART FROM THIS POST, A PAGE ON TIBETAN WORKS WITH LOTUS FRAMES IS NOW AVAILABLE IN THE ‘COMPARING WORKS’ SECTION IN THE LEFT-HAND MARGIN OF THIS BLOG

3rd-4th century, Gandhara, winged atlas, schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s (see also detailed description by Mark Rasmussen on Bonhams ).

We saw two such figures supporting the throne of the historical buddha on a work at the Portland Museum. This particularly impressive example is quite unique in style and body proportions, with carefully rendered details such as the hands and toes, the overlapping feathers on his wings, the thick curls of hair and beard, the neat draping of the shawl over his left arm (which then drops onto the base and leaves his genitals uncovered, revealing individually modelled strands of pubic hair).

3rd century, Gandhara, winged figure, schist, at the Norton Simon Foundation (USA).

This beardless figure with a narrower chest, both knees and his right arm raised, is thought to be from the same set given that they are of similar height and have the same type of base with an incised motif (and same style of eyes).

Circa 2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, high relief grey schist panel, Atlas and Menoetius possibly, private collection, photo on Artemis .

Another pair, the older one with a beard and leaning on a stick, both of them wearing a loin cloth and a head band. The above-named gallery suggests that they either represent Atlas and his brother or Atlas as a youth and Atlas as an elderly man.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Atlas, schist, photo here , at the British Museum in London (UK).

These two are both elderly, with different facial features and a different pose.

3rd century, Gandhara, winged atlas figure, schist, at the Cleveland Museum of Art (USA).

Slightly smaller in height, but very similar in style to the first two images, this moustachioed winged atlas has the hide of a lion over his head and back, thus blending Atlas and Hercules into one (neither of whom have wings in Greek mythology).

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Atlas, schist, at the British Museum in London (UK).

Young, athletic, with boots and a pleated garment worn rather low, his right hand placed defiantly over his raised knee. He is clean shaven and his hair is combed back.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Atlas, schist, item 1880.178 at the British Museum in London (UK).

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Atlas, schist, photo here, at the British Museum in London (UK).

Still with boots, but elderly, with full beard and moustache.

2nd-4th century, Gandhara, winged atlas, grey schist, private collection, photo on Auctionata .

Another elderly one, with a topknot, a moustache, and a nimbus, indicating perhaps that he embodies spiritual rather than bodily strength.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, two figures of winged Atlas, schist, private collection, photo on Christie’s .

1st-3rd century, Gandhara, kneeling atlas with open wings, grey schist, private collection, photo on lot-art .

3rd century, Gandhara, Atlas, schist, private collection, photo on Bruun Rasmussen .

Two techniques have been used for this panel: high relief for the stout body with squarish contours, low relief  with a mosaic-like appearance for the wings. He wears a loin cloth and has both hands on his knees.

2nd-4th century, Gandhara, winged atlas, schist, private collection, photo on Auctionata .

Moving away from the Greek prototype and recalling yakshas, this pot-bellied crouching giant sports a long curly moustache and wears bulky earrings shaped like lotus buds.

2nd-4th century, Gandhara, Winged Atlas Figure, schist, private collection, photo on TimeLine Auctions .

A rather stern-looking character with a droopy moustache, reminiscent of various statues of devotees seen in previous posts on Gandhara. We will note that he has both hands around his raised knee.

Gandhara, buddhas (10)

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Buddha, schist, at the Seattle Art Museum (USA).

A figure with harmonious proportions, seated with his legs locked and his hands in the gesture of meditation, on a bed of grass atop a throne decorated with seated buddhas flanked by attendants. His wavy hair gathered in a soft bun tied with a ribbon is a style specific to Greco-Buddhist art in the Gandhara area.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Shakyamuni, grey schist, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s

Here the historical buddha has a stout body with square shoulders and hands, a thick robe with prominent pleats and squarish folds over his lap, a mass of hair that almost looks like a wig. Sotheby’s explain that the scene at the front of the throne represents a debate between three people flanked by devotees. The seat is supported by palm trees at each corner.

3rd-4th century, Gandhara, The Seated Buddha, grey schist, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s as before, lot 347.

This smooth and warm sculpture, with yet again different body proportions and facial features, depicts him with thick curly hair gathered in a bun, his sanghati covering the left shoulder only, a large piece of the under garment drawn over the right breast, his feet uncovered, his hands making the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture. The scene below shows him as prince Siddhartha accompanied by two devotees.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Preaching Buddha Seated on Lotus Throne, schist, at the Portland Museum in Oregon (USA).

Flanked by diminutive adorants, Shakyamuni is seated on a large lotus that raises from a singular platform supported by three elephants and two winged Atlas figures (a post on this topic is coming soon).

Circa 2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, Buddha in Meditation, schist, private collection, photo on lot-art

Seated with both hands in the gesture of meditation, on a throne supported by columns and decorated with a stupa and two devotees. The sun rays on his nimbus are cleverly made to look like lotus petals spreading around his head.

3rd-5th century, Gandhara, three buddhas, stucco with remains of pigments, private collection, photo on Cornette de Saint Cyr .

Three buddhas, each with different facial features, their hair curls rendered by pressing a thumb or a roundish tool into the soft material (see another stucco buddha here for comparison).

2nd-5th century, Gandhara, Seated Buddha with Attendants, schist, private collection, photo on Lyon & Turnbull

Derived from the Adoration of the Buddha by Brahma and Indra, this scene depicts the historical buddha, seated with his hands in the preaching gesture, accompanied by two standing bodhisattvas and another two attendants at the back. Maitreya, to his right, is identified by the water pot in his left hand and the way his hair is gathered in a bun tied with a beaded hairband. Avalokiteshvara, to his left, is identified by the lotus in his left hand and the turban on his head (see Dr Pratapaditya Pal‘s article).