An Adolescent Devotee
This almost complete figure was also once polychromed but most of the pigments are now lost. Wearing a dhoti and a shawl, a torque around the neck, and part of an armlet still attached to his right arm, the figure genuflects on his right knee. Unfortunately, both his hands are broken but likely they held an offering. The figure must once have formed part of a more elaborate tableau with a central image of Shakyamuni.
What is clear from the face is that he represents a young boy rather than an adult. The smiling countenance has a beatific expression and he may portray an angelic worshipper rather than a human one. The round, cherubic face is framed with curling locks on three sides and crowning the head is a small topknot. The closest stylistic parallel is the detached head of another boy probably from Hadda in a private collection in Japan. There is a likelihood that this charming kneeling angel is also from Afghanistan, if not Hadda. However, one cannot rule out the possibility of Taxila in Pakistan being a possible source.
Whatever the exact place of origin, the sculpture clearly shows the unknown sculptor’s mastery of modelling in stucco. Like stone, stucco was a popular medium in Gandhara from at least the 1st century though along with clay it became more popular in the 4th–5th century when this engaging and angelic devotee was created. It is admirable for the subtle plasticity of the form as well as its gentle expression.
Karl and Meherbai Khandalavala Collection
4th century CE
Hadda (?), Afghanistan