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AS114

A Frieze of Siddhartha, Gandhara, Kushan Period c. late 2nd century A.D.

The central figure of the relief is Amitabha Buddha wearing montastic robes draped over one shoulder, seated in the dhyanasana position on an open lotus, symbolic of the attainment of enlightenment. He is seated beneath a gem-encrusted tree which is inherently suggestive of the bodhi or pipal tree at Bodh Gaya under which Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment. Amitabha makes a gesture of teaching with his two hands.

Hierarchic scaling is used very effectively here to suggest three tiers of spiritual attainment. At the highest level is the Buddha Amitabha himself, the exemplar of spiritual perfection who is shown twice the size of the two flanking bodhisattvas. The bodhisattvas, in turn, represent a middle tier of spiritual attainment. Though they are perfected beings they have not yet fully realized their enlightenment, and are thus represented smaller in scale than the central Buddha. The princely figures who appear behind the Buddha and bodhisattvas are Indra and Brahma, Brahmanic deities who signify a still lower level of spiritual attainment; thus, they are shown nearly half the size of the two bodhisattva figures.

Condition: Some loss to the base of the piece and wear around the edges.  There is the loss of the head of one of the deities and right arm of the nearest bodhisattva.  Loss to the face of other bodhisattva.  There is heavy mineral accretion throughout, especially to the top and bottom panels and inside the crevices. Despite the losses, the piece is beautifully carved and presents very well.   Museum quality custom mount.

Dimensions:  height 9.75 inches (24.7 centimeters), offered with museum quality custom mount. 

Provenance: The Bernice Longazel Collection of Gandharan Art, assembled in the early 1960's.

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