Head of Buddha

Unknown2-3th Century

Kyoto National Museum

Kyoto National Museum
Kyoto, Japan

This sculpture was produced in Gandhara (modernday Peshawar area) in Pakistan, which, along with Mathura in India, is famous as the birthplace of Buddhist sculpture. In contrast to the Indian-style visage and body of Mathuran Buddhist images, Gandharan sculpture shows Hellenistic influence with its deeply carved faces like those of Greek sculpture and drapery that appears to be thick.
Buddhism had been practiced in Gandhara since ancient times, but Buddhist sculpture was produced only after immigrants familiar with Greek culture came to this region, beginning some time in the first and second century C.E. (conflicting theories and ongoing debates surround the exact dating) and continuing until the fifth century C.E.
Although only the head remains from this sculpture, it was carved from high-quality stone. The eyes and nose are well articulated, and the lines of the hair are carefully delineated. This is likely an example of high Gandharan sculpture produced between the latter half of the second and early third century. Gandharan Buddha images of this period do not have the deeply twisted spiral “snail-shell” curls of hair that is seen on Japanese Buddha images; rather the hair is rendered in this wave-like manner.


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