Relief with lovers



4th century

H. 14 cm

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This stucco fragment from the ancient Gandhara region depicts a couple of embracing deities. We can assume that it is Pañcika and Hārītī, a very popular couple in Gandhara art, symbols of the marital couple. Pañcika is a god of war, commander of the Yaksha army (the spirits of nature) of Vaiśravaṇa. His wife Hārītī, meanwhile, is a Buddhist goddess and protector of childhood. The two divinities are depicted hand in hand, exchanging tender glances with touching expressiveness.

This sculpture is typical of the art of the Gandhāra region, combining the finesse of Hellenistic realism with the iconographic codes of the Buddhist religion. The figures here are richly adorned, with soft, naturalistic modelling.

Coming from Central Asia, the Kuṣāṇa rulers (1st-3rd centuries) were the main patrons within this geographical area, and it was under their impetus that the art of the Gāndhāra underwent tremendous development. It was a veritable empire, encompassing territories from Uzbekistan to northern India. This powerful kingdom was at the crossroads of many influences, thanks in particular to the caravan trade and the Silk Road. This syncretic style, so original in Buddhist art, enjoyed great success in the Gāndhāra, ensuring its popularity.


Provenance : Jeremy Knowles collection, 2004 then John Bowden collection.