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Head of Buddha Shakyamuni, c. 150

India: Uttar Pradesh, Mathura, 125-175
8-3/4 in. (22.2 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

Not on View

This sculpture is marked by its large, arresting eyes. Images of gods, royalty and individuals were not common in ancient India; more common were sculptures of guardian figures or anthropomorphized nature spirits called Yakshas (male) and Yakshis (female). For this reason, early images of the Buddha are characterized by their bulging eyes, modeled after the fierce, protective gazes of Yaksha sculptures. Characteristic of early Buddha images from Mathura, the treatment of this Buddha’s ushnisha resembles a topknot, perhaps influenced by long-haired yogis.

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