Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Torso of a Bodhisattva

Probably Sahri-Bahlol Workshop
ca. 5th century
Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara, mondern Peshawar region)
H. 64 1/2 in. (163.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1995
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 235
Cult images of bodhisattvas became an important dimension of Mahayana (the Great Wheel sect of North Indian Buddhism) Buddhist worship in the fourth to the fifth century. The monasteries of the Gandharan region commissioned large-scale bodhisattvas in recognition of the growing popularity of these interventionist deities, which embody Buddhist compassion. The cult of Avalokiteshvara represents the highest expression of this sentiment. Probably from the Sahri-Bahlol monastery, this large stone torso, from a figure originally about ten feet tall, is a spectacular survivor from that era. Sensitively modeled and dressed in a draped monk’s robe, it reflects a lingering memory of contact with the Hellenistic West.
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