Three Scenes from the Life of Buddha (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

2nd century
gray schist
Gandhara (present-day Pakistan), India
Overall: 26 × 16 1/4 × 3 1/2 in. (66.04 × 41.28 × 8.89 cm)
Narrative sculpture depicting episodes from the Buddha's career became enormously popular in Kushan-period Gandhara. This example, which shows three such stories, is probably a section of a larger arrangement that ornamented the side of a stupa. The top scene shows the Buddha-to-be submitting to one of his predecessors and receiving a blessing for his future rebirth as the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. In the middle register, the Buddha and his retinue are led by the god Indra-disguised as a young musician-to the palace of a king who would become his disciple. The lowest panel shows a moment soon after the Buddha's enlightenment when the gods, led by Brahma and Indra, entreated the Buddha to preach his doctrine. The influence of Greek and Roman narrative sculpture on Gandharan reliefs is evident in the figures' arrangements in space, distinctive facial types, and certain decorative motifs like the bead-and-reel molding and the playful cupid-like boys along the panel's left side.
Kushan period
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
Dye, Joseph M. The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. London: Philipp Wilson, 2001. (cat. no. 9, pp. 98-101)
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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