Cult images of bodhisattvas became an important dimension of Mahayana (the Great Wheel sect of North Indian Buddhism) Buddhist worship in the fourth to the fifth century. The monasteries of the Gandharan region commissioned large-scale bodhisattvas in recognition of the growing popularity of these interventionist deities, which embody Buddhist compassion. The cult of Avalokiteshvara represents the highest expression of this sentiment. Probably from the Sahri-Bahlol monastery, this large stone torso, from a figure originally about ten feet tall, is a spectacular survivor from that era. Sensitively modeled and dressed in a draped monk’s robe, it reflects a lingering memory of contact with the Hellenistic West.
Private Collection , Pakistan (by 1970, sold to private collector, Europe); ; Private Collector , Europe (until 1995, sold to John Eskenazi, Ltd.); ; [ John Eskenazi Ltd. London, by 1995; sold to MMA ]