Seated Buddha from Gandhara

Pakistan, about 2nd - 3rd century AD

This seated sculpture of the Buddha shows him as a teacher.

Soon after his enlightenment, the Buddha travelled to a deer park near the town of Sarnath where he preached his first sermon. The posture in this figure aims to show him in this manner ‘setting in motion the Wheel of Law’ to his followers.

The Wheel of law in Buddhism explains the real nature of life and existence. At the base of the Buddha’s throne is an image of a bodhisattva – a highly spiritual person who is also destined for enlightenment. He’s wearing a turban and a halo and is flanked by worshippers.

The carving on this statue, made from a stone called schist, is incredibly detailed, as can be seen in the Buddha’s delicate fingernails, the folds in his robe, or the wavy lines in his hair.

This is a style of statue that has been reproduced all over the world to show respect to the Buddha’s learning and enlightenment.



Seated Buddha
from Gandhara

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Object details

Height: 95 cm
Width: 53 cm
Depth: 24 cm



Room 33: Asia


    W. Zwalf, A Catalogue of the Gandhara Sculpture in the British Museum, Vol I & II, (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)

    See this object in our Collection database online

    Further reading

    K.A. Berendt, The Art of Gandhara in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 2007)  

    M. Jansen and C. Luczarts, Gandhara: the Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan – Legends, Monasteries and Paradise (Mainz, 2008)

    Jo-Hyung Rhi, ‘From Bodhisattva to Buddha: the Beginning of Iconic Representation in Buddhist Art’, Artibus Asiae, 54 (1994), 207–225

    V. Zwalf, Buddhism: Art and Faith (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)