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HOME : Asian Art : Gandharan Artefacts : Gandharan Terracotta Buddha Head
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Gandharan Terracotta Buddha Head - AM.0218
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 100 AD to 600 AD
Dimensions: 6" (15.2cm) high
Collection: Asian Art
Medium: Terracotta

Location: Great Britain
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According to tradition Buddhism was first introduced into the Gandharan region under the patronage of Asoka, emperor of the Mauryan dynasty, in the third century B.C. The first significant physical remains to survive, including stupas and figurative sculpture, date from the first century B.C. Between c.100-600 A.D. sculptors working in schist, terracotta and stucco produced an astonishing number and variety of Buddhist images. Gandhara was situated at the crossroads between east and west and thus came under a wide variety of artistic influences, including Persian, Greek and Indian. It also became an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from across Asia as it was claimed that events from the Buddha’s former lives had occurred in the area.

This elegant Buddha head is modelled from terracotta. The hair is arranged in a top-knot, the Gandharan version of the ushnisha, a symbol of spiritual wisdom. The small protrusion on the forehead is an urna, or third eye, a mark of religious enlightenment. The elongated earlobes, damaged slightly on the right, are a reference to the former wealth of the historical Buddha. The elongation was caused by wearing heavy and ornate earrings. The mouth and aqualine nose reveal a debt to Greek models but the stylised almond shaped eyes are typical of images of the Buddha from across Asia. This merging of such diverse styles and traditions is what makes Gandharan art so unique and fascinating. - (AM.0218)


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