88 A Unique Gandhara Bronze Mask of Sakyamuni

88 • A Unique Gandhara Bronze Mask of Sakyamuni

Swat Valley or Bajaur, 1st–2nd century AD
Size: 15 cm high

Bronze masks of Shiva and Bodhisattvas are known from this time and area, but no other mask of Sakyamuni. It would have been fixed to a wood core, as its holes indicate, and the earlobes, wide face, eyebrows, snail-curl hair, wide shoulders and small neck, are all typical of Swat and Bajaur. The striking aspect is his robe, which makes him look like an honorary Roman senator. At this period the connection between the surviving and evolving core of Hellenistic culture in the East and the Roman empire was extremely active. This bronze is an important witness to that connection.

Published: O. Bopearachchi, C. Landes, C. Sachs, De l’Indus à l’Oxus. Archéologie de l’Asie Centrale, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Montpellier, 2003, no. 220.