Monumental Bodhisattva Head

Date: 5th century

Culture: Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara)

Medium: Stucco

Dimensions: H. 19 3/4 in. (50.2 cm); W. 10 in. (25.4 cm); D. 10 in. (25.4 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Gift of Christian Humann, 1977

Accession Number: 1977.191


This head comes from a scupture that would have been more than twelve feet tall and likely stood along the perimeter of a Buddhist sacred area enclosing a stupa. By the fourth and fifth centuries monumental imagery became increasingly popular in Gandhara and was almost exclusively restricted to images of the Buddha. The bodhisattva’s turban and jewelry might indicate that he is a rare image of Shakyamuni prior to enlightenment. Alternatively, the bodhisattva may have attended the Buddha as part of a massive triad.