• Indian and Southeast Asian Art auction at Christies

    Sale 2300

    Indian and Southeast Asian Art

    23 March 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 133

    A Rare Green Schist Figure of the Emaciated Siddhartha


    Price Realised  


    A Rare Green Schist Figure of the Emaciated Siddhartha
    Gandhara, 2nd/3rd century
    Expressively carved seated in dhyanasana on a pedestal with his hands in his lap, clad in a long sanghati with folds delineated by incised lines, his emaciated torso revealing the ribcage, the face with gaunt cheeks and deep-set eyes, the hair pulled into a topknot over the ushnisha, with two attendants to his left
    10 in. (25.4 cm.) high

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    After renouncing his princely existence in search of truth, Siddhartha went through a stage of profound austerity. For six years Siddhartha tried passionately to work out his own way of salvation, visiting several religious masters of the time. Dissatisfied with their teachings, he practiced asceticism, submitting himself to such severe physical austerities that he came to look like a living skeleton. The deeply sunken eyeballs, the projecting cheekbones and rib cage attest to his effort and discipline to exceed human limitations in his quest for spiritual transcendence.

    Gandharan artists, beyond capturing the idealized physical beauty of the enlightened Buddha, were equally capable of dramatizing a subject. The goal was to expresses the noble spiritual state of the Bodhisattva seeking the meaning of life at the threshold between life and death. It is arguably the most graphic image of the physical deprivation and mental concentration endured by Siddhartha on his path towards Enlightenment, and is one of the quintessential Gandharan iconic types. For a related example, see I. Kurita, Gandharan Art, 1990, vol. 1, cat. no. 191, p. 102.


    Acquired in London, 1999

    Saleroom Notice

    This sculpture was part of the Buddha exhibition at the Crocker Art Museum, Canada, 31 January - 19 April, 2009, and was also published in the accompanying exhibition catalogue.

    Pre-Lot Text



    N. Tingley, Buddhas, 2009, cat. no. 3.


    Buddha, Crocker Art Museum, Canada, 31 January - 19 April, 2009.