Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh, India
circa 900 AD
Museum no. IM.184-1910
The 'Sanchi torso' was discovered in 1883 during excavations of portions of the western gateway (torana) of Stupa No 1 at Sanchi. Its precise identification remained ambiguous until 1971 when the existence of 2 fragments of a companion figure were identified at the site. Traces of the flower symbol (nagapuspa) of the Bodhisattva Maitreya, identified the newly discovered figure and removed any doubts that the V&A torso represents the other premier Buddhist saviour figure, the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.
The torso appears to wear a waistcloth, the border of the upper hem being ornamented with a foliated scroll. There is a girdle with a small kirtimukha (demon face) clasp, the upper band being engraved with small birds, elephants, rosettes and other conventional motifs. Other details include a broad jewelled necklace with small bell-pendants and a skin of the Black Buck (Krishnajina) worn over the left shoulder, passing across the body and round the right side.