A beautiful Gandharan grey schist statuette of Buddha Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future, who will be born to teach enlightenment in the next age. The Buddha is shown here seated in vajrasana pose with his legs crossed, and with his hands in dhyanamudra. The figure, rendered in an extremely naturalist manner, with facial and anatomical features finely carved, is portrayed bejewelled, wearing necklaces, bracelets and armlets. Behind the figure’s head a halo. The base is further enriched with the depiction of two bovines and two worshippers, shown praying either side of a flaming altar.
The Buddha is modelled in classical Gandharan style and displays several of the characteristic auspicious marks, laksanas, of the Buddha: these include the forehead mark, urna, and the ornate top knot, ushnisha. With a meditative expression, gently smiling lips adorned with moustache, slender nose, crisp, planar intersection of forehead and eyes, and wavy locks of hair, this idealized image of a Buddha bears all the classical features of Greek-inspired Gandharan sculptures. The reverse is unmodelled: the flat surface on the reverse indicates that the head was attached to a surface behind rather than free-standing. The Buddha Maitreya, or Bodhisattva, is here represented as princely figure, alluding to the historical Buddha’s life as a prince before he renounced his kingdom. Bodhisattvas are indeed more richly attired, compared than other figures of Buddhas which appear attired as mendicant monks.