VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Bodhisattva head
DUROM.1969.346
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Through the style and quality of the carving this statue epitomises established strength and wealth. It is likely that this Bodhisattva was a key icon in a major shrine.

History of the Object
This Bodhisattva belongs to the corpus of Buddhist schist statues from the ancient territory of Gandhara, which lay north of the Indus and south of Pamirs. This region, also known as the Crossroads of Asia, witnessed the exchange and mixing of many different cultural impulses under the patronage of the Kushan Emperors. Thus Indic philosophy was mixed with Hellenistic and Greco-Roman traditions of sculpture to produce some of the earliest attempts to depict the Gautama Buddha in the first century of the Common Era. Carving from soft schist, Gandhara’s sculptors soon began to facilitate the introduction of a new Mahayana philosophical development - the Bodhisattva. Unlike the Gautama Buddha, who had achieved nirvana, an ultimate state of nothingness, and was unable to intercede on the behalf of those in need, the Mahayana conceptualised a powerful, princely figure who had achieved enlightenment, but whose worldly role was solely to assist others obtain bliss.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Grey schist 
Measurements
height 21cm 
Creator name
Gandharan 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Pakistan (Kingdom of Gandhara) 
Geography
Pakistan 
Time period
AD 2nd century ~ AD 2nd century 
Creation date
2nd Century 
Function
Statues like this were found in chapels and shrines across Gandhara in the early centuries CE. 
Acquisition
Gift from the Rt Hon Malcolm MacDonald in 1969 
Copyright
Copyright owned by Durham University Oriental Museum 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Owned by Durham University Oriental Museum 
Museum
Oriental Museum 
Credit line
Gift from the Rt Hon Malcolm MacDonald 

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