Head of a Bodhisattva

Artist/maker unknown, Gandharan

Probably made in Pakistan, South Asia, Asia
or made in Afghanistan, Asia

Mid- 2nd - early 3rd century


13 3/4 x 9 5/8 x 10 1/2 inches (34.9 x 24.4 x 26.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

* Gallery 230, Asian Art, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Annual Membership Fund, 1921

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Well before 326 B.C., when Alexander the Great's Greek army conquered areas north and west of India (parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan), cultural and commercial ties had been established between the Gandhara region of Pakistan-Afghanistan and the ancient Mediterranean world. Communication between these areas flourished throughout the following millennium. This Buddhist sculpture of the Gandhara region shows Greco-Roman influence in a number of characteristics, including the facial features, heavy naturalistic drapery, and ornaments. The hair of the image finds its prototype in a Greco-Roman image of the god Apollo, the so-called Apollo Belvedere-type. This head probably belonged to an over-life-sized standing or seated figure of a Bodhisattva (one who has reached perfection but postpones his own liberation to help others).

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.