The first serious missionary efforts on behalf of Buddhism were made by the Mauryan king, Ashoka (268–232 bc), who despatched ambassadors to the Seleucids, Ptolemies and Antigonids to spread the Word. Before the 1st century bc, Buddha was represented by a symbol, often his footprint. His images appeared for the first time in the second quarter of that century, and by the 1st century ad Buddhism was spreading along the Silk Road to China, Korea and Japan. From the 1st to the 4th centuries ad, images of Buddha were mainly carved in schist in the Gandhara region; stucco came into use in the 3rd century, a technique learned from Rome along with those required for building stupas. Gandhara was also renowned for its metallurgy, and this stately bronze is an early example of their work.
Published: O. Bopearachchi, C. Landes, C. Sachs, De l’Indus à l’Oxus. Archéologie de l’Asie Centrale, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Montpellier, 2003, no. 216
Provenance: Private collection, UK