This sculpture is the legacy of the famous 19th Century archaeologist Henry Cousens who excavated the site of a stupa at Mirpurkhas, one of the most important and well-preserved sites of the Indo-Greek Buddhist settlements. This terracotta was found leaning against the north wall of the central shrine. Curiously, this is the only secular image among the large number of religious figures found at the site. The image probably represents a donor disciple who contributed towards the construction of the stupa.
The modelling is a bit heavy, but the expressive face, particularly the half-closed thoughtful eyes, the sharp arch of the eyebrows and the full lips impart an unusual charm to the figure. Look how the hair is arranged with care. The ear ornaments do not match each other: the left earring is larger and has three pearl drops. Possibly this special earring indicates a position of office. (A similar custom in Tibet was prevalent till the 18th Century where high officials in the government wore a special kind of earring in one ear.) The elaborate hairdo also seems to be a mark of an important position in the state administration. The devotee’s elegantly-draped striped dhoti (lower garment) has traces of paint. The manner in which he holds the flower is reminiscent of the famous painting, Bodhisattva Padmapani, in cave No.1 at Ajanta.
5th Century CE
Mirpur khas, Sindh, Pakistan