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3rd century


Unknown Artist


Originating in the north-west regions of present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan, the art of Gandhara represents a unique meeting of East and West. From these sources there emerged a remarkable new art that flourished during the first four centuries of the Christian era. This figure of a Maitreya is distinguished by its quiet and contemplative attitude, the distinctive face with prominent moustache, the flowing drapery, the ornate pedestal, and the right foot casually raised leaving an empty sandal on the footstool. The right hand lightly touches the head in a pensive gesture, and the left holds a covered casket or alms bowl. It is an image that beautifully and richly embraces its cosmopolitan heritage and lays the foundations for the great traditions of East Asian Buddhist sculpture.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, 1999


Other Titles

Stele with Bodhisattva seated in contemplation

Seated pensive Bodhisattva

Place where the work was made

Swat Valley Ancient Gandhara Pakistan


3rd century

Media category


Materials used

grey schist


79.0 x 39.0 x 18.0 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1997

Accession number


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 9 publications


Edmund Capon, Art Gallery of New South Wales: highlights from the collection, Sydney, 2008, 182, 183 (colour illus.), 188 (colour illus.). The colour illus. on page 188 is a detail of this work.

Jonathan Cooper (Editor), The Art Gallery of New South Wales Bulletin, Sydney, Feb 1998-Apr 1998, 41 (colour illus.).

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Asian Collection: South Asia', pg. 288-297, Sydney, 1999, 288 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Arts of Asia, 'New Dimensions', pg. 54-63, Hong Kong, Nov 2003-Dec 2003, 59 (colour illus.). no.11

Jackie Menzies, Look, 'Evolution and enlightenment', pg. 30- 32., Sydney, Jul 2015, 32 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Buddhist Art', Sydney, 2003, 28-29 (colour illus.). The colour illus. on page 29 is a detail of this work.

Pratapaditya Pal, Orientations, 'Sensuous Spirituality: Hindu and Buddhist Art from the Indic Cultural Realm', pg. 80-87, Hong Kong, Sep 2000, 82 (illus.; colour illus.). fig.4 and 4a (detail)

Public Programmes Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Adventures in Asia. An education kit for the Asian gallery, Sydney, 2003, 1 (colour illus.). card no.1

Wendy Symonds (Editor), Look, 'Asian Art Gallery New Courses', pg. 20, Heidelberg, Feb 1998, 20 (colour illus.).