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Unknown artist, Gandharan, Head of Buddha Shakyamuni, 1-200 CE, Helen M. Danforth Fund

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Head of Buddha Shakyamuni

Unknown artist, Gandharan, Gandhara
1-200 CE
Head of Buddha Shakyamuni
Gray schist
28.9 x 17.5 x 17.8 cm (11 3/8 x 6 7/8 x 7 inches)
Helen M. Danforth Fund 81.211

The earliest images of Buddha are found in modern-day Pakistan at sites along ancient trade routes. The region once known as Gandhara was familiar to the Greeks as early as the fourth century BCE. Traces of their influence are visible in the classicizing features of this head of Buddha (top), combined with all the traditional attributes of Buddha—the skull protuberance, the spot or tuft of hairs between the eyebrows, and the elongated earlobes of ancient Indian nobility. The simplified and youthful facial features and the coiled knots of hair are typical of Gandharan representations. This head would probably have been sculpted for a full-length, approximately life-size robed statue. There is evidence that the nimbus originally appearing around the head has been removed.

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