Torso of a Bodhisattva

Artist: Probably Sahri-Bahlol Workshop

Date: ca. 5th century

Culture: Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara, mondern Peshawar region)

Medium: Schist

Dimensions: H. 64 1/2 in. (163.8 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1995

Accession Number: 1995.419


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.