Lot 34C: Lifesize Gandharan Grey Schist Head of Goddess Hariti

Artemis Gallery

April 17, 2018
Louisville, CO, US

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Description: Northwest Pakistan, Gandharan, ca. 2nd to 3rd century CE. A finely carved, grey schist head of the mother goddess Hariti wearing a diamond-patterned headband and elaborate ear ornaments - a sculptural depiction of a protective deity from the Gandharan Empire displaying fine carving technique. Stylistically, the attention to the sinuous, wavy Mediterranean hair as well as the sensitive modeling of Hariti's expressive visage both demonstrate a great classical influence. Alexander the Great conquered Gandhara in 330 BCE and with the help of the Indo-Greek kings introduced classical traditions that would influence Gandharan art for the following seven centuries. A rare example of Greco-Buddhist art that demonstrates a strong syncretism between eastern and western traditions. Custom mount. Size: 6.2125" W x 9.875" H (15.8 cm x 25.1 cm); 14.75" H (37.5 cm) on included custom stand.

According to Buddhist mythology, Hariti had hundreds of children whom she adored. However, in order to feed them, she kidnapped and slaughtered other children. The grieving mothers asked Buddha to put an end to Hariti's actions. So the Buddha abducted her youngest son and hid him under his rice bowl. After a desperate search, Hariti appealed to Buddha who explained that her suffering was due to the loss of only one of her hundreds of children. He asked her to imagine the immense suffering of the parents who lost their only children. Upon hearing this, Hariti vowed to be a devout protector of children as well as women in childbirth. In return the Buddha gifted her with bodhi which empowered her to counter evil and cure the sick. From that moment on, she ate pomegranates instead of human flesh. Hence, it is customary to see Hariti presenting a pomegranate and / or a cornucopia of plenty.

Provenance: ex-private East Coast Collection acquired at major gallery

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Condition Report: A section from a larger relief or statue with small losses to tips of ear ornaments, periphery of left ear, nose, and eyebrow, and minor surface wear and areas of earthen encrustation. Stable surface fissures on chin and neck. Verso unfinished as it was most likely intended to be set in a niche.
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