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Seated Buddha. Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara), 1st to mid-2nd century. Materials; Bronze with traces of gold leaf. Measurement; H. 6 5/8 in. (16.8cm); W. 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm). D. 4 in. (10.2 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art; New York City.


According to the MET, this bronze sculpture of the Buddha is likely one of the earliest representations of Shakyamuni from Gandhara, an ancient region of Pakistan. His raised right hand is meant to convey that he should not be feared. Some scholars believe that this image may have been influenced by Western art, supported by the naturalistic folds of his clothing and the similarities in his spiked halo to the Roman emperor Nero, who was frequently depicted as the Sun god Helios.  As one of the first literal human depictions of the Buddha, who still has the mustache connecting him to his prior royal life, much thought and intention must have been utilized in the creation of this small sculpture. Previous depictions of the Buddha were strictly symbolic and didn't represent him in human form, so we know how present the importance of every symbol must have been. The decision to adopt the halo can arguably have been influenced by the subconscious of the artist, who tapped into the collective unconscious and understood its meaning deeply.

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