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Rare and Important Gandharan Grey Schist Relief of a Syncretistic Deity

The mature, winged, and elaborately muscled man directly references contemporary representations of Atlas, as does his pose. The lion’s skin draped about his shoulders is an attribute of Herakles, yet it simultaneously refers to the Bodhisattva Vajrapani, a principal protector deity of the Buddha, symbolic of his strength. The third eye can only recall Shiva.

Kushan, 2nd Century AD

Height: 26.2 cm. (10 5/16 in.)

Width: 20.5 cm. (8 1/16 in.)


New York private collection, acquired from John Eskenazi Ltd., London 2004.

Published: Antiquarium; Ancient Treasures XX. (London, 2022) p.41 Bopearachchi, Osmund; From Bactria to Taprobane-selected works of Osmund Bopearachchi (New Delhi, 2015) p.132, fig. 7

Comparandum: The British Museum, London mus. nos. 1880.177; 1904,1217.41 Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland acc. no. 2011.136 (Identified as Atlas).

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