Everything changes five and a half centuries after the life of the founder. The figure of Buddha becomes the expression of perfection. Like any human being, Buddha must be recognizable. A council sets the 32 main characteristics of the representation of Buddha.
This canon is immediately applied in stone sculpture, and then in gold coins. Both arts are familiar to the Greek civilization still influential in the neighboring regions of the Indian subcontinent, including Gandhara.
Kanishka was the great emperor of the Kushan dynasty in North India. He had his main capital at Peshawar in Gandhara and another one at Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. His reign lasted a quarter century about 1900 years ago. Kanishka was a zealous sponsor of Buddhism at the time when the Han opened the Silk Road.
On September 15 in New York, Christie's sells at lot 66 an early figure of standing Buddha of large size, 1.37 m high, in splendid condition.
It was carved in a mottled red sandstone from the Mathura region and belongs to a group certainly attributable to a royal workshop for which all elements converge to the reign of Kanishka, such as the inscriptions on similar pieces and the comparison of the attitude of Buddha with the reverse of the gold coins of the emperor.
The kaparda is a characteristic of this group. This is a specific shape of the protrusion of wisdom that overcomes the shaved head of Buddha.
The execution of this specimen is of extreme care, with the aim of providing a naturalistic vision that will make the character appealing to the faithful. The artist represented the thin pleated garment as a bulge above the skin and not by the classical incision that was much easier to achieve.
In its category, this sculpture is "a masterpiece among masterpieces" in the wording used by Christie's at the conclusion of the catalog description.