• Indian and Southeast Asian Art auction at Christies

    Sale 2300

    Indian and Southeast Asian Art

    23 March 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 139

    A Rare Copper Tetradrachm of Buddha


    Price Realised  


    A Rare Copper Tetradrachm of Buddha
    Gandhara, Kushan period, circa 100
    Obverse with an image of King Kanishka with staff making an offering at a fire altar, reverse with an image of Buddha backed by a halo, inscribed in Bactrian with his name 'BODDO'
    1 1/16 in. (2.7 cm.) in diameter

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    Once anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha became acceptable and replaced the aniconic symbols previously used to indicate his presence, they became the primary cult images. Under the Kushan king and important Buddhist patron Kunishka I, during the first quarter of the 2nd century, coins bearing his image together with that of Buddha on the obverse were issued for the first time.
    The depiction of Buddha is frontal, as opposed to the convention of depicting gods or kings on coins with face in profile, as the coin makers were most likely adhering to sculptural prototypes conceived as frontal images. The variations of images indicate that during the reign of Kanishka I a canon of sculptural images was already in existence, thus providing important evidence for the chronology and development of Gandharan sculpture. It further represents an important step in the history of Buddhism, fittingly placing Buddha on the face of a coin reserved for gods.

    Pre-Lot Text