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A Gandhara Relief Panel portraying the Great Departure, Kushan Period, 1st - 3rd century AD

portrayed in profile, this scene depicts the "Great Departure" of Siddhartha Gautama, a predestined being. Prince Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha to be) is shown in princely robes as he departs secretly at night from his father's city of Kapilavastu. Accompanied by his servant Chandaka, he rides his richly caparisoned horse Kanthaka, whose hooves "were muffled by the gods" to prevent guards from knowing of his departure.

Background:  Spanning the distance across the Khyber from modern day Afghanistan in the east and Pakistan in the north, the Gandharan cultural region served as the central passageway between Persia, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The ancient kingdom of Gandhara was a center of significant military and commercial importance, which absorbed and reflected the dynamic multicultural, artistic and religious influence of its numerous conquerors and inhabitants. Situated between the Indus and Kabul Rivers in the fertile Peshawar valley, this region was also for many centuries a main corridor of invasion from within and without.

By the 1st and 2nd century BCE, after the capture of the Gandharan region by the Greek and Persian armies of Alexander and the decline of the Mauryan Empire of Chandragupta and his heirs, an era of Graeco-Bactrian rule began, thus giving rise to this unique synthesis of Hellenistic and Indic artistic traditions.

Buddhism flourished in the Gandharan region from the 1st century BCE, reaching its apogee under the mighty Kushan emperors. The Kushan period, during which the present work was created, is considered a golden age of Gandharan Buddhist art, during which the construction of stupas or reliquary mounds, temples, monasteries and sculpture dominated the Gandharan cultural sphere.

Condition: condition commensurate with age; in very good condition with some mineral accretion throughout, nicely carved and presents well.   Museum quality custom mount.

Dimensions:  Width: (20.3 cm) 8 inches,  Height:  (20.3 cm) 8 inches.

Provenance:   Private Woodbury, Connecticut collection, acquired in the 1960's and then by descent. 

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