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Art from Home: Stories of Cultural Connections

Louvre Abu Dhabi brings the museum to you by telling stories about the art works on loans from our partners and from our collection through video, audio and activities that can be downloaded for children.

Buddha head Eastern Wei or Northern Qi dynasty Northern China 530–580 White marble Louvre Abu Dhabi

Buddha head Gupta empire Northern India, Mathura region 400–500 Red sandstone Louvre Abu Dhabi

Buddha head Gupta empire

The aesthetic of Gupta art represents the Buddha in a state of inward-looking meditation, with eyes half-closed and downward gaze. In this, one of the earliest monumental portrayals of the figure, the Buddha still faces his disciples but is already no longer of this world. Carved in the red sandstone of the Sikri quarries, this larger than life-size head is highly representative of the artistic production of the Mathura area. The topknot is partially incomplete but all of the iconographic and stylistic characteristics are in place, including locks of hair curled towards the right, elongated ear lobes and doubly arched eyebrows.

Buddha head Eastern Wei

This work was produced during the construction of the first wave of great Buddhist sanctuaries in northern China during the 5th−6th century. The introduction of Buddhism into China from India by pilgrims and the merchants of the Silk Roads led to the creation of huge monastic complexes hewn out of the jagged mountains in the north of the country. This Buddha’s head comes from a temple or chapel belonging to a monastery. Its style closely resembles many of the sculptures unearthed at Qingzhou in Shandong and is representative of 6th-century Buddhist art, even though works of such plastic quality are rare.

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