Northern Pakistan (Gilgit Kingdom)
Gilt brass inlaid with silver and copper; H. 9 5/8 in. (24.4 cm)
Purchase, Rogers Fund; Anonymous and Jeff Soref Gifts; Winnie Feng Gift, in honor of Florence Irving; and John Stewart Kennedy Fund, by exchange, 2011 (2011.19)
As the first dated landmark object around which the early chronology of northwestern Indian Buddhist bronzes can be built, this enthroned Buddha is a seminal work in the history of early Buddhist art of the Himalayam region. The sculpture embodies much of the standard iconography of early Buddhist imagery: the Buddha seated in a yogic posture, alert and animated as he gestures to his devotee, together with a distinctive treatment of robes and the signature motif of the lion-supported throne set upon a lotus-petal pedestal. This is by far the most complete and important of the three earliest datable sculptures of the Gilgit Kingdom, all commissioned by Queen Mangalahamsika, known from Gilgit manuscripts to have been the senior queen to King Vajraditayanandi, whose reign is assigned to about 600. Mangalahamsika and her king were members of the Patola Shahi dynasty, who ruled over northern Pakistan from the beginning of the seventh to the ninth century. A feature of the Gilgit school is the cartouche carrying the donor dedication and inscription, which may be translated as "Om. This is a pious gift. This pious gift was ordered to be made by the Shri Paramadevi [Highest Queen] Mangalahamsika."