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Gandharan Schist Relief Panel - Sensual Woman w/ Grapes

Central Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Gandharan Empire, ca. 200 BCE to 100 CE. A hand-carved sensual woman in high relief in a deep rectangular panel, made from grey schist, holding a bunch of grapes in an evocation of Dionysian imagery. The woman faces forward, with one hand on her hip and one holding grapes in her grasp. She is nude above her hips, and wears a floor length skirt. She stands with her legs crossed at the ankle and wears bangles at her wrists and ankles as well as huge hanging earrings. Size: 6" W x 10.4" H (15.2 cm x 26.4 cm); 12" H (30.5 cm) on included custom stand.

Gandharans are famous for their schist carvings. Vast monastic institutions like those at Takht-i-Bahi, Sahri-Bahlol, Jamal Garhi, Ranigat, and Thareli were decorated by skilled artisans with carved representations of important figures, religious scenes, and artistic dedications. During this time, Gandhara was exceptionally wealthy, profiting from trade along the Silk Road; patrons had resources to spend on the arts, creating a flowering of artwork. Women, however, are rare subjects in Gandharan art. Where they are seen, they are often dancers, musicians, or otherwise portrayed as performers. Some of this artwork is thought to be inspired by Dionysus and the Greco-Roman influence on Gandharan art and culture. Others, however, tell the story of Buddha, with dancing women interpreted as heavenly apsaras, female spirits of the skies and waters in Buddhist and Hindu culture.

Condition: Light wear commensurate with age but overall very nicely preserved. This includes some small losses on the surface, but nearly all details are present.

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection

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