We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Shakyamuni and Maitreya

2nd century-3rd century


Unknown Artist

Alternate image of Shakyamuni and Maitreya by
Alternate image of Shakyamuni and Maitreya by
  • Details

    Places where the work was made
    Ancient Gandhara Pakistan
    Ancient Gandhara Afghanistan
    Kushan period mid 1st century - early 5th century
    2nd century-3rd century
    Media category
    Materials used
    51.0 x 17.0 x 15.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Purchased 2003
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    The Gandharan school of Buddhist sculpture was one of the very first that articulated the sculptural image of the Buddha, and hence it is important in a consideration of Buddhist sculpture, as well as Buddhism. This double-sided sculpture features the historical Buddha Shakyamuni on one side and the Future Buddha Maitreya on the other. Shakyamuni can be identified by the 'cranial bump' or 'ushnisha', the elongated earlobes and the rippling monk's robe which covers both shoulders. Maitreya, by contrast, wears the garb of royalty and is depicted as a 'bodhisattva' (a compassionate being who has deferred his or her own Enlightenment in order to help others), with a moustache, distinctive looped hairdo, elegant robes, jewellery and sandals. He carries a waterpot which is a distinguishing attribute of his deity. A two sided sculpture like this, originally probably part of a pillar or similar supporting structure is rare.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

    • Walking with gods, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 01 Jun 2019–05 Jan 2020

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications

  • Provenance

    The provenance of this work is under review and records will be updated as new details become available. The Gallery welcomes any information. Contact provenance@ag.nsw.gov.au

    Alex Biancardi, pre 1996-Nov 1998, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, on loan to the Art Gallery of New South Wales since November 1996.

    Private Collection, Nov 1998-Oct 2003, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, by descent. Purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2003.