Fasting Buddha of Lahore
From the 6th century BC to the 11th century AD the Kingdom of Gandhara prospered in modern day eastern Afghanistan, northern Pakistan and Kashmir. Before falling to Muslims the area was ruled by Buddhist kings.
From the 1st Century to the 6th, an interesting style of Greco-Buddhist art arose due to the influence of Alexander the Great’s invading armies. The Bactrian Greeks brought their classical Hellenistic style with attention to realistic depictions of the human body.
The synthesis of Buddhist religious symbols and life-like Greek artistic ideals resulted in a sculptural sophistication unknown to prior depictions of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas. Mediterranean curly hair and mustaches began to adorn statues and the figure is in proportion; less cartoon-like and more Hellenistic.
The cities of modern day Taxila (I had visited) and Peshawar (currently seeing violence) were important centers of commerce and learning.
The historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, spent 6 years in self renunciation in an effort to gain insight on the human condition and this image depicts just that. In a moment of epiphany, Buddha later embraced the “Middle Path” between the two extremes.
The attention to detail in Gandhara art is generally not found in Indian art but would continue in north India and Tibet. The neck and sunken eyes are especially rendered with such extreme realism that the viewer shares the suffering.
This is the crowning piece in the excellent Lahore Museum in Lahore, Pakistan.