Ancient region of Gandhara (Northern Pakistan)
3rd – 4th century
H. 61 cm or 24 in
With his nimbus and urna conveying his divine nature, this finely executed sculpture represents a bodhisattva. His looped topknot with beaded ornament is a hairstyle common to images of Maitreya, the future Buddha. A closely comparable figure of Maitreya, identified by the water flask in his left hand, is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (accession number: 13.96.17).
Naturalism pervades his subtle contrapposto and bare musculature. The elegant folds of his robe reflect the aesthetic influences of the Mediterranean. In contrast, the articulation of his face deviates from this realism – his eyes, brows, and mouth are rendered in an idealistic manner, emphasizing the transcendental and compassionate nature of the bodhisattva, striving for the enlightenment of all sentient beings.