It was during the Kushan period in India that the image of the Buddha was first realized in human form and the basic repertoire of Buddhist iconography formulated. One of the two distinct styles of sculpture that emerged during the period was produced in Gandhara (parts of present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan). Gandharan art was heavily influenced by contact with the Mediterranean traditions. From the fourth century b.c., with the near conquest of South Asia by Alexander the Great, until the fifth century these regions maintained frequent contacts stimulated by trade.
Carved from gray schist, this Buddha would have been carved into the niche of a rock temple. The monastic robes cover both shoulders, and the thick, heavy folds of drapery are naturalistically modeled and voluminous. The idealized Hellenistic face is smooth and oval-shaped with a straight nose and well-defined eyes shown half-closed as if in a state of meditation. The hair is rendered in wavy lines, and the ushnisha (cranial bump) is depicted as a wavy topknot. The urna (tuft of hair between the eyebrows) is conceived as a raised circle between the brows.The arms, now missing, would have been raised in one of the five standard mudras (gestures) that the Buddha makes.
(Nasli Heeramaneck Galleries, New York);
purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1967.