Seated in the classic dhyanasana position, a posture of meditation, in which the legs are locked in full-lotus position and the soles of the feet turned upwards so as to be visible, with both hands positioned in front of the heart in the dharmachakra-parvartana mudra - the wheel of dharma gesture that is sometimes referred to as the ‘teaching gesture’. Carved in the round, he is dressed in a flowing sanghati that drapes elegantly over the left shoulder, the face with bow-shaped lips and heavy-lidded eyes, the hair pulled over the ushnisha, backed by a nimbus, the base with a fire altar.
For related examples, see Ingholt, Harold "Gandharan Art in Pakistan" Pantheon Books Inc (1957).
The dharmachakra mudra derives from Shakyamuni Buddha’s first discourse upon the Four Noble Truths, which he taught at the deer park in Sarnath, near Varanasi. The historical event is known as the Buddha’s ‘first turning of the wheel of dharma’; where he set in motion the ‘perfect wheel’ of his teachings. His two great subsequent discourses, the second and third turnings of the wheel of dharma, were given at Rajagriha and Shravasti respectively. The dharmachakra mudra may also be referred to as the dharmachakra-pravatana-mudra, the gesture of ‘turning the wheel of the dharma’. This has a direct association with the ‘wheel turning’ universal monarch or chakravartin.
Condition: Weathered loss to the top of the nimbus, peripheral weathering at the top of the brow and hairline, with cosmetic restoration to the nose. Wear and some loss to the hands and a central hairline crack from the base of the statue to the neck. Some weathering, minor pitting, and mineral accumulation throughout. Despite these issues, overall, the figure presents extremely well and is custom mounted on a museum quality base.
Dimensions: height 21 inches (53.34 centimeters), width at knees 11.5 inches (29.21 centimeters).
Provenance: The Bernice Longazel private collection of Gandhara Art, acquired in Afghanistan in the late 1950's and legally imported into the USA in the early 1960's.