Buddha converting Apalāla

Ancient province of Gandhāra
3rd-4th century
H. 26 cm or 10 ¼ in

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This charming schist relief comes from the art of the Gandhāra region in northern India. It was with the Gandhāra school that the iconography of the Buddha in human form was established. The last existence of the historical Buddha as well as his previous lives, the jātaka, are highlighted in the prolific iconography of the Gandhāra. This work illustrates a unique episode in the life of the historical Buddha, the one of his meeting with the serpent king Apalāla and the king’s conversion to Buddhism. This moment, rarely represented in Gandhāra art, highlights the Buddha, standing in slight contrapposto. The serpent king Apalāla crouches at his feet, with his hands joined. The style of the characters’ clothing, particularly that of the holy man, testifies to Hellenistic and Roman stylistic influence, particularly in the drapery of the clothes. Thus this piece is a perfect testimony of the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhāra that flourished under the patronage of the Kuṣāṇ rulers.

Condition Report: 

This work is in good condition.

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