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Gandharan Schist Panel - Curved Relief with Figures

Central Asia, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan, Gandharan Empire, ca. 1st century CE. A long, gently curved grey schist panel section, perhaps from the base of a stupa or column. It is carved with a series of high relief scenes, each separated by a classical column set into a small border. Two scenes are visible here - one, the Great Departure (on the left) featuring Prince Siddhartha on horseback coming through a doorway with two standing figures looking towards them; the other showing the Death of Buddha, with Buddha laying in bed while a man sits beside him and two attendants look on. All figures are dressed in draped robes and furniture and architectural details are visible. Many Gandharan carved reliefs feature Buddhist themes, with famous scenes like these repeated over and over again. Size: 20" W x 4.7" H (50.8 cm x 11.9 cm); 6.35" H (16.1 cm) on included custom stand.

The Gandharan Empire made itself wealthy in part by controlling lucrative trade along the mountain passes between China in the East and the Near East and Mediterranean in the West; a great deal of this wealth went into local patronage of artisans and art. Their artistic tradition also reflects the conquest of Alexander the Great and the introduction of styles from all sides, blended into a uniquely Gandharan tradition.

See the Death of Buddha at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/38452 and the Great Departure at the University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology: https://maa.missouri.edu/media-gallery/detail/236/762

Condition: Piece is a fragment from a larger relief, with losses visible at either end. One corner has been repaired, as has one of the heads near the edge of the repair. No restoration along repair line - all is original material.

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-private Virginia, USA collection, acquired in the 1980s

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