83 A Superb Grey Schist Statue of Prince Siddhartha

83 • A Superb Grey Schist Statue of Prince Siddhartha

Gandhara, 3rd–4th century AD
Size: 63 cm high

There are four known sculptures of Siddhartha from the same workshop, including this one, and their similarity and quality suggest they are the work of the same artist. All were originally discovered in the city of Sahri Bahlol, near Peshawar. The largest of the group, 97 cm high, is in a private collection in Japan, published by I. Kurita. The next in size is in the Lahore Museum, and the smallest, at 45 cm, is in a private collection in the UK. The hair falling in curls to the shoulders, the facial features, the musculature of the body, elaborate jewellery and the rhythmic flow of fabrics, are all features typical of the whole group. This example is the most Hellenistic in look, and has both its halo and base intact, the latter carved with two Zoroastrians at a fire-altar. They rank among the finest expressions of the Indo-Greek aesthetic: the Greeks kept trying to fit their gods into human form, while the Indian tradition, as it evolved from using symbols, tried to fit human form into more godly shapes.