Terracotta female head

From Ushkur, Kashmir, 6th–7th century AD

The city of Ushkur, ancient Huvishkapura, in the Kashmir valley was founded in the reign of the Kushan emperor Huvishka, in the second century AD. The remains of ancient Buddhist stupas, a large number of heads and other fragments were excavated from the site in 1916.

These heads were produced by pulling roughcasts from moulds and then given a more individual quality by accentuating certain features and adding headdresses and ornaments, before being painted. They were probably arranged at various levels around the stupa, where they would have formed parts of larger tableaux of scenes of the Buddha or bodhisattvas.

Stylistically, this piece can be related to the stucco (plaster) heads from Gandhara, particularly the types seen at Hadda in Afghanistan of the fourth century AD. At the same time, it has slightly fuller facial features and a softening of the details similar to Gupta sculpture of the late fifth century AD. The head also has distinctly Kashmiri features: particuarly the long arched eyebrows and upward slanting eyes, common to much sixth- and seventh-century Kashmiri sculpture, whether of stone or terracotta.

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Height: 12.700 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1861.7-28.6



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