ISLAMABAD: After 14 years, the Islamabad Museum has added another attraction to its permanent connection from the 2nd to 4th centuries, the statue of Bodhisattva.
Sculpted from schist stone, the statue of a moustached Bodhisattva with a halo stands around 36 inches tall and 22 inches wide, a little above knee height. It was handed over to the Department of Archaeology and Museums from the Ministry of National Heritage.
According to the archaeology department, statues of Bodhisattva of this size are found in the Swat Valley, Peshawar and Taxila.
Such statues are typically found in Swat Valley, Peshawar, Taxila
In this depiction, Bodhisattva wears a high turban with a central globular bead and a fan-shaped crest.
The statue’s earlobes are slightly damaged, and it has deep set half open eyes, a flat nose and a rounded chin.
A band with two strands runs around its neck featuring a zigzag pattern, as well as a necklace with a thick chain and a stone held between the jaws of two dragon-like creatures. An amulet has been sculpted onto the right shoulder, and Bodhisattva appears in a meditative posture with legs crossed, holding a lotus flower in his left hand.
The museum’s deputy director, Ghafoor Lone, explained that Bodhisattva is a popular subject of Buddhist art.
“The statue is an impression of one of 24,000 Bodhisattvas that had come and gone in this world. Bodhisattva is a step below the final stage, before a practitioner of Buddhism attains Buddha-hood.”
Mr Lone explained that it was common for Buddhists to remain in the Bodhisattva stage to serve others and take them along. He said that in early Indian Buddhism, the term Bodhisattva was used primarily to refer to Gautama Buddha in his former life.
The Jataka tales, stories of the Buddha’s lives, depict the various attempts of the Bodhisattva to embrace qualities such as self-sacrifice and morality.
The Islamabad museum is already home to three stone Bodhisattva sculptures, all of which belong to the Gandhara region. These rare artefacts were confiscated by customs authorities when smuggled attempted to leave the country with them from the Peshawar and Islamabad airports.
The official said the sculpture will be displayed publicly soon.