India | Stone

Maitreya
Ancient Region of Gandhara
c. 2nd – 3rd century, Kushan Period
Grey Schist

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Maitreya
Ancient Region of Gandhara
c. 2nd – 3rd century, Kushan Period
Grey Schist
27 3/4 in. (70.5 cm.)

Provenance: Private collection of a European diplomat, acquired in Paris between the 1960’s and 1980’s.

The oceans will recede, sins of attachment and desire will run rampant, and dharma will be all but forgotten. Scripture states this is the time when Maitreya will leave the heavenly realm of Tushita and make his appearance on the physical realm of earth (Jambudvipa) to restore the path of enlightenment. Established as the Bodhisattva of the future, he goes by many names; Jampa in Tibet, Maithree in Sinhala, Metteyya in Pali, Di-Lac in Vietnamese, and Maitreya in Sanskrit (literally translating to loving-kindness).
The syncretic amalgamation of elements as diverse as those prevailing in the immense region of Central Asia is astounding. For this reason the art of the areas lying to the north-west of India is fascinating but also exceptionally complex. The vast territories stretching from the Ganges to the north of the Oxus were at all times the scene of invasions and migrations from north and west. It was a land where civilizations mingled, contributing customs, beliefs and ritual, an individual style, and the capacity for adaptation or retreat in the face of established cultures. This region, unified under the Kushan dynasty during the first centuries of the Christian era, became the centre for the flowering of a new art, comprising many outside elements, but nevertheless homogenous. Called at first Greco- or Romano-Buddhist, and afterwards Gandharan, this art developed subject to changing sites and conditions. Fundamentally Buddhist, it spread to far countries wherever the religion was established and its importance and influence were considerable. At the same time in the Ganges region of Mathura, also under Kushan rule, Indian art was evolving on its own lines, preserving, even accentuating, the ancient aesthetic and iconographic traditions. The two styles, however were not strangers to one another; although they developed independently, many exchanges took place. Whereas the Kushan style of Mathura was only one characteristic phase in the evolution of Indian art, the Kushan style that developed further west at Gandhara combined the features of Indian art with many others from abroad. This very fine example of Gandharan sculpture depicts Maitreya (the future Buddha), who can be identified by the lotiform water pot he holds in his left hand. At first glance, one can see the Greco-Roman influence in the manner his dhoti drapes beneath his waist, but what isn’t so obvious is that in Gandharan depictions of Buddhist subjects the right shoulder is always bare, whereas in the Indian aesthetic examples both shoulders are usually covered by the monastic robe. Also typical of this inherited style is the treatment of the future Buddha’s hair, which later in more pure Indian examples will resemble snail shell curls, rather than the flowing locks in this example. Although heavily influenced by the classic methods, these Gandharan artists created a unique and beautiful sculptural style that spread exponentially influencing the style of regions later on such as Kashmir, and other parts of India

Bodhisattva Head
Ancient Region of Gandhara
c. 2nd – 3rd century, Kushan Period
Grey Schist

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Bodhisattva Head
Ancient Region of Gandhara
c. 2nd – 3rd century, Kushan Period
Grey Schist

13 in. (33 cm.)

Provenance: Private Belgian collection, by inheritance, originally acquired by his father during a working stay in Pakistan in the 1960’s.

This finely carved head of a bodhisattva features an elegant turban secured at the center by a carved clasp with makara elements, the broad straight forehead in the classical style offset with a raised urna, his face bearing a deeply meditative expression, with downcast eyes and strong aquiline nose, a stylized curled mustache over bow-shaped lips. The cheekbone and chin are sculpted in a commanding manner, elongated earlobes symbolizing the Buddhas renunciation of princely life.

Compare the very fine turban elements and facial characteristics of the present work with another head of a bodhisattva in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, see Pratapaditya Pal, Indian Sculpture, Vol. 1, Los Angeles, 1986, p. 168, Cat. No. S46. 

The use of Classical ornament underscores the Hellenistic influence on Gandharan art. For other bodhisattva images with elaborately carved turbans, see F. Tissot, Gandhara, Paris, 1985, figs, 171-183.

Maitreya
Ancient Region of Gandhara
c. 2nd – 3rd century, Kushan Period
Grey Schist

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Maitreya
Ancient Region of Gandhara
c. 2nd – 3rd century, Kushan Period
Grey Schist
41 x 18 x 9 in. (104 x 46 x 23 cm.)

Provenance: Private French collection, acquired circa 1930 with the assistance of former Iranian prime minister Ebrahim Hakimi (1871-1959)
Documentation available upon request

Seated gracefully in lalitasana upon a richly embellished throne and backed by a large aureole, his left arm resting palm upward on his lap elegantly dangling a lotiform Kundika in the shape of a down turned lotus bud teeming with the elixir of life. The strong right hand raised in abhayamudra with a webbed membrane to represent his divine status. Deeply incised and stylized folds of his sanghati offer striking contrast when elegantly draped over his left shoulder, fully exposing the right shoulder and pectoral. His rounded and gentle face downcast, almond shaped eyes surmounted by smoothly arching and deeply formed brows with an urna in the center. His serene expression flanked by pendulous pierced earlobes. Atop the head of Maitreya rests a rare turban, lithe with floral motif, uncommon imagery eloquently alluding to Ksatriyan origins. Elaborately adorned in jewelry he boasts various necklaces including a thick inset choker along with talismanic armlets, and a sling of capsules containing various tantric incantations and prayers. Eloquently carved with sensuous chappals, Hellenistic roots are readily apparent. Life sized, sporting a broad and muscular torso, this sculpture masterfully embodies the powerful yet benevolent nature of Maitreya.

Compare to another example as powerful as the Kapoor Maitreya, now in the collection of the Matsuoaka Museum, Tokyo, as well as another much smaller image of less refinement but similar characteristics sold in Christies NY, March 21, 2012 as lot 707.

Dancing Ganesh
Central India, Madhya Pradesh
c. 10th century
Stone

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Dancing Ganesh
Central India, Madhya Pradesh
c. 10th century
Stone
30 in. (76.2 cm.)

Parnashavari
Northeastern India
c. 10th – 11th century, Pala Dynasty
Phyllite stone stele

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Parnashavari
Northeastern India
c. 10th – 11th century, Pala Dynasty
Phyllite stone stele
40 in. (101.6 cm.)

Provenance: Ex collection of Wasim Zaman, Massachusetts USA

“Associated with the mysterious Shavari tribe of ancient India, the Forest Goddess, Parnashavari, with three faces and six hands, wears a skirt and a garland of thatched green leaves. She is associated with jungle tribes and the practice of healing, particularly curing contagious diseases. In the Himalayas and Tibet when a large group of people congregate to receive extended religious teachings, it is common to first give the initiation and blessing for the Forest Goddess in order to stave off sickness.”
-Himalayan Art Resources

Corpulent Yaksha
Eastern India, Pala Period
c. 10th – 11th century
Black Stone

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Corpulent Yaksha
Eastern India, Pala Period
c. 10th – 11th century
Black Stone
25 in. (63.5 cm.)

Provenance:
Sotheby’s, New York, 29 March 2006, lot 207

Clad in a short dhoti, this round figure stands on a lotus pedestal, holding a bud in his right hand and a lotus in the left. Vidyadharas preside over him in the above clouds, while attendants stand at his sides. The identity of the present example is difficult to pinpoint, as it strays from the norm. In the Pala period, however, portly figures are generally identified through their respective attributes as Vamana, Manjushri, or Mahakala, so it is possible that this Yaksha was crafted to be one of these deities.

Ganesh
Northeastern India
c. 11th century, Pala Dynasty 
Stone

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Ganesh
Northeastern India
c. 11th century, Pala Dynasty 
Stone
30 x 17 x 7 in. (76.2 x 43.2 x 17.8 cm.)

Crowned Buddha
Northeastern India
11th – 12th century, Pala Dynasty
Phyllite Stone stele

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Crowned Buddha
Northeastern India
11th – 12th century, Pala Dynasty
Phyllite Stone stele
19 x 12 x 6 in. (48.2 x 30.5 x 15.2 cm.)

Vishnu
Northeastern India 
c. 11th – 12th century, Pala Dynasty
Black stone stele

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Vishnu
Northeastern India
c. 11th – 12th century, Pala Dynasty
Black stone stele
26 x 13 in. (66 x 33 cm.)

Provenance: Private American Collection

The four-armed deity, standing on a lotus pedastel over a stepped plinth with scrolling tendrils and two adorative figures, holding the staff, chakra and conch shell, wearing a short dhoti secured by an elaborate beaded festoon, further adorned with multiple necklaces and armbands, the finely carved face surmounted by a conical chignon and foliate tiara, flanked by Lakshmi and Sarasvati holding a vina, the openwork backplate centered by kirttimukha mask, two apsaras amid elaborate scrollwork above.

Shiva and Parvati
Northeastern India
c. 12th century, Pala Dynasty
Stone

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Shiva and Parvati
Northeastern India
c. 12th century, Pala Dynasty
Stone
10 3/8 in. (26.5 cm.)

Shiva seated in rajalalitasana with his consort Uma on a lotus base protected by Nandi and a lion, his right hand lovingly raising his consort’s chin, the other wrapped around her waist holding her left breast, Uma seated on his left thigh holds a mirror, each are bare-chested, wearing only dhotis, and adorned in jewelry.

Saraswati
India, Rajasthan
c. 1200, inscribed
Stone Stele

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India, RajasthanSaraswati
c. 1200, inscribed
Stone Stele
17 3/4 in. (45 cm.)
ArtLoss no. S00132165

Provenance: Frome a private Georgia Estate

The goddess is sensuously carved dancing in the foreground rendered with an elegant tribhanga, the veena in her left hand, in her others a mala, rosary, and a sutra, wearing beaded necklaces and a tiara. At her feet her vehicle, the peacock, looks up along with a companion.

Saraswati, the “one with the lovely voice,” is the goddess of music, literature, poetry and wisdom. She is a part of the trinity along with Lakshmi and Parvati. All the three forms help the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to create, maintain, and regenerate the universe respectively.

Initially a Hindu deity, her image was eventually absorbed into Buddhism and became prevalent throughout Buddhist Asia as the epitome of female wisdom and the consort to the bodhisattva Manjushri.

Figure of Nandi
India Rajasthan or Uttar Paradesh
c.12th century
Sandstone

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Figure of Nandi
India Rajasthan or Uttar Paradesh
c. 12th century 
Sandstone
23 in. (58.3cm ) high
Provenance:
Private collection, acquired in 1990s
Christie’s New York, September 21, 2005, lot 63
Sacred white bull and vehicle of Shiva, Nandi serves as guardian, gatekeeper, and mount to the mighty destroyer god. Nandi has been identified as Shiva’s vehicle, or vahana, as early as the Kushan period in the first century CE and has been a subject of exaltation throughout India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Some claim that reverence for bovines in the Hindu religion stemmed from the status given to Nandi as Shiva’s vahana, especially in Uttar Pradesh. Sculptural forms of the bull frequently appear outside of temples dedicated to Shiva and are positioned to face the sanctuary where the main representation of Shiva would be located to demonstrate his reverence of the god. In the present figure, the worshippers positioned in front of Nandi were likely included to represent additional devotion, as they would be facing the most highly regarded space in the temple complex. Nandi sculptures are so prolific at these sites of worship that it is rare for a Shaivite temple to be missing an image of the bull.
In the Ramayana, it was Nandi who cursed Ravana, king of Lanka and the Ramayana’s main antagonist who kidnapped Rama’s consort Sita. As gatekeeper, Nandi refused Ravana’s request to meet with Shiva. Ravana taunted and teased Nandi in an attempt to get his way, but this only irritated the bull, causing him to curse the demon king, foretelling that Lanka would be burned to the ground by a monkey. This later came to fruition when Hanuman rescued Sita and destroyed Ravana’s kingdom.
Nandi’s importance in Shiva’s world originates from early Indian culture, where dairy farming was the most significant occupation, giving the cow great status. Vahanas represent the overriding and neutralizing power of gods over creation and ability to control and transform energies within the universe. Each vahana is specific to their deity: Garuda serves Vishnu as the sun god, Ekahamsa (One Swan) serves Brahma as the creator god who initiated creation through water, and Nandi serves Shiva as a symbol of fertility. Since Shiva was worshipped with great fervor in South India where the majority of his temples exist, it is clear why most Nandi sculptures originate from the south. While there are figures of Nandi that hail from the North, they are less common, giving the present figure an added level of dynamism.

Buddha Muchalinda
Thailand
c. 13th century
Sandstone

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Buddha Muchalinda
Thailand
c. 13th century
Sandstone
37 in. (94 cm.)

Provenance:
Spink and Son’s, London, England: L65 B131/ F11 no.2

Julian Sherrier Collection, London, formed between the early 1940s – 1972 Christie’s, New York, March 23, 2010, Lot 276
Private American Collection

The Buddha Muchalinda represents a moment in the Buddha’s enlightenment. Deep in meditation, he was not aware of rising lake waters, sent by a demon to drown him. The Naga serpent king raised the Buddha on his coils and wrapped his body beneath him during meditation, fanning out his hood with seven cobra heads to protect him from the storm.

This sensitively carved figure of the Buddha is seated in padmasana with his hands in dhyanamudra, the face with a slight smile and an expression of compassionate serenity. The coiled body of the serpent beneath him is finely incised overall with an imbricated pattern, its seven-headed hood rising up behind the Buddha. His feet as well as the back of the serpent are marked with symbols of the wheel of law.

Compare to an in situ example of a stone sculpture of Buddha Muchalinda, in M. Freeman and R. Warner, Angkor, The Hidden Glories, 1990, ill. p. 128.

“Thus I heard: at one time the Gracious One was dwelling near Uruvelā, on the bank of the river Nerañjarā, at the root of the Mucalinda (tree), in the first (period) after attaining Awakening. Then at that time the Gracious One was sitting in one cross-legged posture for seven days experiencing the happiness of freedom. Then at that time a great cloud arose out of season, (bringing) seven days of rainy weather, cold winds, and overcast days. Then the Nāga King Mucalinda, after leaving his domicile, and surrounding the Gracious One’s body seven times with his coils, stood with his great hood stretched out above his head, (thinking): “May the Gracious One not be cold, may the Gracious One not be hot, may the Gracious One not be affected by gadflies, mosquitoes, wind, the heat (of the sun), and serpents.”

Then with the passing of those seven days, the Gracious One arose from that concentration. Then the Nāga King Mucalinda, having understood that the sky was now clear without a cloud, having unravelled his coils from the Gracious One’s body, and after withdrawing his own form, and creating the appearance of a young brāhmana, stood in front of the Gracious One, revering the Gracious One with raised hands.

Then the Gracious One, having understood the significance of it, on that occasion uttered this exalted utterance:

“There is happiness and detachment for the one who is satisfied,

Who has heard the Dhamma, and who sees,

There is happiness for he who is free from ill-will in the world,

Who is restrained towards breathing beings.

The state of dispassion in the world is happiness, the complete transcending of sense desires,

(But) for he who has removed the conceit ‘I am’ – this is indeed the highest happiness.”

-Udana, Exalted Uterrances: Mucalindavaggo