Buddhist Ideas and Greek Style

Its body now lost, this monumental head of a bodhisattva once graced a Buddhist temple or monastery in ancient Gandhara (modern-day Pakistan and Afghanistan). Gandhara was located at the eastern edge of the empire of Alexander the Great (356–323 BCE), and the region remained a conduit between East and West for centuries. Local artists drew upon the area’s Greek legacy to create Buddhist images. This bodhisattva’s wavy hair, bridgeless nose, and naturalistic lips resemble those of a sculpted Apollo.

Afghanistan (ancient Gandhara), ca. 4th century
Stucco with traces of paint
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler; Arthur M. Sackler Gallery S1987.951