The final ordeal of the Buddha before achieving Enlightenment was an attack by Mara, the temptress who attempted to arouse his passions and attacked him along with her grotesque warriors. The assault of Mara was a favourite theme of the artists illustrating the life of the Buddha in stone. The Buddhacharita of Ashvaghosha meticulously describes the appearance of these soldiers or the putras of Mara who assaulted the Buddha, some of them having three faces and long ears like those of an elephant.
The terracotta depicts one such creature having two faces, expressing two different emotions. The face on the left side with fully stretched lips and cheeks is supposedly jeering at the Buddha, whereas the other one is fierce with a wide open mouth exposing a full row of teeth. Big round eyeballs of both these faces bulge out of their eye sockets. Their ears carved high up on the temple, combine to form a circle between neatly arranged tassels of hair, while their whiskers protrude from the joint of their faces. High cheekbones, straight nose and front hair arranged in curled tassels reveal Gandhara affinity in this masterly crafted face.
Similar faces were depicted earlier in stone for instance, on the rear view of the central lintel of the north gate at Sanchi. The style continued even in the Gandhara period as is seen in the panel depicting Mara’s army in the Lahore Museum.
Ht: 12 cms.