Bactria (northern Afghanistan)
Terracotta and gouache
H. (each) 22 1/2 in. (57.2 cm)
Purchase, Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gift, 2000 (2000.42.2)
Gift of Isao Kurita, 2000 (2000.42.4)
Each of these rare Central Asian votive panels depicts a deity (with nimbus) being approached by a male worshipper, probably nonroyal but portrayed as of equal stature to the god. Compositionally, they follow scenes of homage and investiture from the post-Hellenistic West and from Iran in which a king and a god appear side by side. On the panel at left, a majestic figure with a full beard and long wavy hair, who has been identified as the supreme deity Zeus/Serapis/Ohrmazd, receives a suppliant in the characteristic Iranian short tunic and leggings, hands clasped in adoration. Along with the hands of a missing worshipper, the god Shiva/Oesho is depicted on the panel at right. Four-armed and three-headed, with a prominent third eye, he wears an animal skin and a belted, diaphanous garment and holds a trident. Here, the rich Intercultural Style that developed in the Kushan realm is most clearly displayed: Indian divine iconography; the Iranian type of two-figured composition; and Greco-Roman naturalism in the drapery and pose, as well as in the use of light and shadow to suggest modeling.
The panels have holes at the corners and were probably installed, together with two others acquired by the Museum, on the interior walls of a sanctuary, perhaps a family shrine.