Head of the Buddha, Bodhisattva
Lime plaster with traces of paint
Museum no. IM.3-1931
This head of Siddhartha was made in the Buddhist stronghold of Gandhara (in modern Afghanistan) in the fourth or fifth century of the Christian era. The Buddha's serene face (originally painted) is relieved of all nagging emotion. It was made to encourage contemplation of Buddhism's Four Truths. Life is inherently an ugly struggle. This is because we are tormented by desire. So we must eliminate desire and follow the path to Nirvana, the dematerialised condition that approximates to heaven. Buddhism sought beautiful states of mind by rejecting objects...except, that is, the ones that stimulated Buddhist meditation.
Stephen Bayley, Guest Curator