Ancient Gandharan schist figure of Atlas
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This is a sculpture in grey schist representing a forward-facing masculine figure, an Atlas. He is seated with his left leg bent and lying on the ground and his right leg bent in an upright position with the knee near his chest. His hands are resting on his lower legs, while lumpy rocks mark the ground. He has a large mustache and braided beard, his hair is wavy and he wears a turband.
A western artistic influence is clear, although the pose shows rather more oriental influences. With its fine features, the delicate work on the details and its posture, the figure transmits a feeling of peace and serenity.
The historical región of Gandhara, which corresponds to the southeast of present-day Afghanistan, the centre and north of Pakistan and the northeast of India, was a satrapy of Persian Achaeminid Empire from the 6th Century B.C. It was conquered by Alexander the Great and remained Hellenistic under Greco-Hindu sovereigns until it was annexed into the Kushan Empire (1st-3rd Century A.D. The Kushan adopted many elements of Hellenistic culture, including the use of the Greek alphabet in their language. It was in these historical circumstances that Greco Buddhist art developed in Gandhara, the merging of Greek with Buddhist culture. Hellenistic sculpture was specifically the main source of influences in Gandhara art, as gods were here represented in human form. This carving was produced at a time when Gandhara's urban elite had developed a refined taste for foreign goods, as such Gandharan artists were using figures from classical Greek mythology to form the motifs for their work.
-KURITA, Isao. Gandharan Art : The Buddha's Life Story & The World of the Buddha, (2 Vol.).
-BUSSAGLI, Mario; TISSOT, Francine; ARNAL, Béatrice. L'Art du Gandhara. Paris: Librairie générale française. 1996.
-BENHRENDT, Kurt A. The art of Gandhara in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York.
|Condition||A part from the rock lump ground broken away. The figure itself intact.|
|Dating||Gandhara 2nd - 5th Century A.D.|
|Provenance||Ex belgian collection Madame Junot before 1980|
|Size||16,3 cm high|