Comparison Of Head Of Alexander And Head Of A Bodhisattva

1031 words - 5 pages

The Kushans of the first to third century CE embraced artistic, religious, and cultural practices of others graciously. They connected cultures together and were considered one of the most accepting cultures and honored diversity. From their coinage, to the early rise of Gandharan art with Hellenisitic traces, it was rarely truly developed from that area specifically. When is art or culture developed through a vacuum with no outside influences? Never. The Kushan empire hub was situated in a convenient location with access to the East and West and they used this location to their advantage and everyone else’s. Trades flourished and many cultures benefitted. “Archeological excavations, art ...view middle of the document...

The Gandhara region was mainly an area of Buddhist practice and teaching under the Kushan rulers. “In strictly iconographic terms, moreover, the art of Gandhara was almost universally accredited with being the first to have invented the anthropomorphic figure of the Buddha, represented in earlier works of Buddhist art (known to us as from the production of Bharhut and Sanchi, 2nd-1st century BC) only in aniconic form through a set of symbols: tree, wheel, empty throne, turban and footprints.” (Filigenza)

Gandhara, current day Pakistan, was the place that the Buddha in human form originated which led to the rapid rise and spread of Buddhist art all over Asia. “For many decades, ever since its discovery around the mid-19th century, the history of studies on the art of Gandhara could be summed up in a few basic points: analysis of the formal and iconographical elements (above all in relation to the various components: Hellenistic, Roman, Indian, Iranian), origin of the anthropomorphic Buddha image, identification of the subjects and, in the absence of safe reference for an absolute chronology, a broad criterion to order the bulk of Gandharan production at least within a relative chronological framework.” (Filigenza)

The Graeco-Bactrian influence was prevalent in the Kushan dynasty so their art would be no different. The Head of a Bodhisattva is a Buddhist piece, of course. The Bodhisattva itself is a Buddha that stays in the world instead of reaching nirvana in means to enlighten the people. This head has very classical, Hellenistic styles common throughout the Kushan empire at this time. It has the definitive Kushan style of a profile head and frontal eyes along with the naturalism of the Greco-Bactrian influence. As with Bactrian art, naturalism is a key element. The beginnings of Kushan art embodied the same element. The wavy hair of the Head of a Bodhisattva also embodied that same element of Greco-Bactrian like with the Head of Alexander which is very naturalistic and wavy. “His looks have been reproduced in a thousand images. These usually portray wavy leonine hair and quiff, tilted head and uplifted faraway eyes. It is the...

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