Sculpture from the northern Indian region of Himachal Pradesh, such as the current work, is stylistically comparable with sculpture from neighboring Kashmir, unsurprising given the proximity of the two regions. The hilltown of Chamba, where many of the most important bronze figures from this region originate, is less than two hundred miles from the valley of Kashmir.
Historically, Kashmir was an important religious center both for Hindu and Buddhist faiths, and developed an excellent bronze-casting tradition. Stylistically, early Kashmiri sculpture borrowed heavily from the nearby Swat Valley, as well as the Gupta style of India. In later centuries, the sculptors of Kashmir developed a distinctive style, notable herein by the fleshy torso, wide eyes with vibrant use of inlay, flat facial features, and jewelry types, including tripartite mitered crowns.
Some stylistic and iconographical characteristics differentiate sculpture from the regions of Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir. The conjoined aureole of Himachal Pradesh bronzes, for example, is typically flat and unadorned—as visible in the current work—in contrast to Kashmiri aureoles, which are often incised with flames. The streamers or ribbons that extend from either side of the torso are also commonly found in Himachal bronzes, and appear less frequently in Kashmiri bronzes.
Compare the unadorned aureole and the stepped rectangular base of the current work with a tenth-eleventh century bronze figure of Ganesha from the Florence and Herbert Irving Collection, sold at Christie’s New York, 21 March 2019, lot 1101.
See, also, a contemporaneous bronze figure of Buddha Shakyamuni from Kashmir, originally in the Pan-Asian Collection, illustrating the stylistic similarity of the two regions, illustrated by U. von Schroeder in Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, p. 125, no. 19E; while the Pan-Asian example relates to the present figure in the similar treatment of the central figure and lotus base, the aureole is incised with flames and a stupa, and the plinth is supported by lions and a central yaksha in the Kashmiri tradition.