Standing Buddha Schist Ancient region of Gandhara, 2nd-4th century H 90 cm Provenance: Horst Bucholz collection in the 1960s, then Galerie du Rhône
This superb sculpture comes from the ancient Gandhara region, which encompassed territories in Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India. The Buddha is shown here standing. The Blessed One is recognisable by his monastic costume, here covering both shoulders, and by the circular mandala behind his head; but above all by the lakṣaṇa, distinctive marks or signs of the Śākyamuni Buddha, notably the cranial protuberance (uṣṇīṣa), the tuft of hair between the eyes (ūrṇā) and the distended earlobes, revelatory of his former wealth. The right arm is fragmented, but his hand would have been sketching the gesture of fearlessness (abhaya mudrā), palm turned outwards and fingers extended. This iconography is conventional for representing the historical Buddha and became fixed in the first centuries of our era, when the anthropomorphic representation of the Buddha appeared.