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Buddhist Relief with Bowl Bearers
In its original context as a decoration on a Buddhist stupa, this sculpture of figures bearing offerings would have helped to create a celebratory atmosphere at the pilgrimage site. Narrative scenes and other decorative subjects were often populated with numerous subsidiary figures, illustrating stories, presenting offerings, or engaged in worship. The naturalistic appearance of the drapery and subtle weight shift of these figures gives them a monumental quality that belies their size. The medium often used in Gandharan sculpture was grey schist, a metamorphic stone that sparkles with particles of mica or quartz, clearly seen in this piece. Despite the beauty of the stone, all Gandharan sculpture was brightly painted, adding to the animation of the figures and scenes portrayed, a liveliness no doubt mirrored by the crowds of visiting pilgrims.