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Head of a Bodhisattva

Artist/maker unknown, Pakistani or Afghani

Probably made in Pakistan, South Asia, Asia
or made in Afghanistan, Asia

Mid- 2nd to early 3rd century


13 3/4 x 9 5/8 x 10 1/2 inches (34.9 x 24.4 x 26.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Annual Membership Fund, 1921

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Well before 326 B.C., when Alexander the Great's Greek army conquered areas north and west of India (parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan), cultural and commercial ties had been established between the Gandhara region of Pakistan-Afghanistan and the ancient Mediterranean world. Communication between these areas flourished throughout the following millennium. This Buddhist sculpture of the Gandhara region shows Greco-Roman influence in a number of characteristics, including the facial features, heavy naturalistic drapery, and ornaments. The hair of the image finds its prototype in a Greco-Roman image of the god Apollo, the so-called Apollo Belvedere-type. This head probably belonged to an over-life-sized standing or seated figure of a Bodhisattva (one who has reached perfection but postpones his own liberation to help others).