Head of bodhisattva

Ancient region of Gandhāra (Northern Pakistan)
3rd – 4th century
H. 28 cm or 11 ⅛ in



Encompassing Northeastern Afghanistan and Northwestern Pakistan, the ancient region of Gandhāra benefited from the unique hybridity of early cultures. Displaying in its sculpture elements informed by the Mediterranean, Near East, India, and Central Asia, its artistic products are wonderfully cosmopolitan.

The elaborate turban worn by this handsome bodhisattva has no direct comparison to Indian or Sasanian models but retains elements of large faceted beads, thick fabric bands, and fantastical beasts at the sides, represented in other examples published in Tissot, Gandhāra, Paris, 1985, figs.171-83. Also compare to a bodhisattva head in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art published in Pal, Indian Sculpture, vol. I, Los Angeles, 1986, pp. 168-9, no. S46.

The present sculpture is very finely carved and finished with smooth polish over the stone’s fine grain.

Provenance: Spink & Son Ltd, London, 1970s.
Sotheby’s, New York, 21 March 2012, lot 265.