Explore highlights
Terracotta head of a bodhisattva


Height: 14.600 cm

Gift of Alma Latifi, Esq., CIE OBE

Asia OA 1936.1-14.1

Room 33: Asia

    Terracotta head of a bodhisattva

    From Akhnur, Kashmir, 5th–6th century AD

    South of the Kashmir valley, Akhnur in the area of Jammu has produced a number of small terracottas, mostly detached heads that were probably made in the sixth century AD. They have the sensitivity and modelling of the best late Gandharan stuccoes (known from sites like Hadda in the fourth century AD). At the same time, the full lips, the tight snail shell curls of hair visible over his ears and wrapped below the turban and soft, rounded contours of the face show the influence of Gupta India.

    Most heads from Akhnur tend to share these features of a plump face with elaborate hairstyles. While there is no definite way to identify these heads, we do know that they come from a Buddhist context and figures adorned with jewellery and turbans such as this, are almost invariably those of bodhisattvas.

    S. Huntington, The art of ancient India: Budd (New York, Weatherhill, 1984)


    Browse or search over 4,000 highlights from the Museum collection

    On display: Room 33: Asia

    Shop Online

    Indian art in close-up detail, £14.99

    Indian art in close-up detail, £14.99