Head of a Bodhisattva, 2nd - 3rd century

Gift of Mrs. Philip N. Lilienthal, Jr., 1970

This is the head of a bodhisattva, a being who is capable of attaining Buddhahood, but who has made the choice to forego liberation from the cycle of rebirths, nirvana, and to remain in the world in order to guide others along the Buddhist path. Through the raised curl of hair between his eyebrows, urna, indicates his enlightened status, his long hair and moustache imply that he still remains fully involved with the world, and the jeweled diadem indicates his princely status.

This head was made in the ancient kingdom of Gandhara, located at commercial crossroads - between Rome and the Hellenistic world to the west, South Asia, and Central Asia-and like much of Gandharan art, it shows Hellenistic influence.

In this series of short videos, curator Patience Young gives us a closer look at several interesting works in the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

These videos were created as part of a group thesis project to reinvent the museum experience.

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