168. The Bronze Bust of a King of Kapisa in Devotion

Indo-Greek Bactria, 5th century AD
Size: 16.5 cm high

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The lower half of this figure would have been in a kneeling position, and the whole would have served as an incense burner. Apart from its great rarity, the figure is remarkable for its garnet eyeballs, a feature of clay Bodhisattva heads from Hadda and other sites of the time. The elaborate hairstyle is also typical, exhibited at its most flamboyant on the Ortiz marble head of Siddhartha.

Kapisa is mentioned as early as the 5th century bc by the Indian scholar, Panini, as famous for its wines and the practice of slavery. The Mauryans introduced Buddhism and Hinduism to the region, and took it over permanently after the famous deal between Chandragupta Maurya and Alexander’s general Seleucus. In return for five hundred elephants, Seleucus gave his daughter in marriage to Chandragupta, along with control over regions south of the Hindu Kush. The elephants gave victory to Seleucus at the battle of Ipsos in 301 bc against the western Hellenistic kings. After the break-up of Alexander’s Eastern Empire, a variety of Indo-Greek kingdoms were part of the continual dynastic struggles of the region. The kingdom of Kapisa was one of these.