Art of the past: Gandhara Buddha, 2nd century CE
What: Among the earliest depictions of the Buddha in human form, the statue is an example of Greco-Buddhist art made during the Kushan empire in the Gandhara region, which comprised parts of modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Style: Carved in greyish schist, a type of rock, the statue employs a syncretic style melding Greek, Roman and Indian features. Gandhara, having been a Greek colony, was a melting pot of different cultures—which explains the diverse iconography here. Buddha is dressed in a Roman toga and the sharp folds of the drapery echo the design on the figures of Greek Parthenon sculptures.
Look closer: The ushnisha—the top-knot symbolic of wisdom—has wavy hair, as seen on statues of the Greek god Apollo.
This is the fifth in a six-part series introducing our picks of antique art and sculpture from the National Museum, Delhi.
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