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The Standing Buddha Gandara is a sculpture created by an unknown artist in the 1st-2ndcentury CE. The sculpture is shown in the Tokyo National Museum and is a Greco-Buddhist statuary. In this essay, I will analyze the stylistic characteristics of the statue. Essentially every element used in the sculpture is tied to the philosophy behind Buddhism, and remarkable similarities can be seen with this style and the style used by the Greeks.

Analyze the stylistic characteristics (light, line, color, scale, medium and subject matter).
The almond color that is used in the depiction of the Buddha is a neutral tone, which is ideal for this sculpture because the Buddha himself is a neutral person. In the Buddhist philosophy, one is to clear their mind of distraction, particularly of attachments. This lack of desire is a very neutral state, and the use of the almond colour in this sculpture fits well with that way of thinking. The light is also very soft and neutral which furthers the idea of the Buddha finding nirvana, which is a state of bliss. There are no harsh tones in the light, as it is just soft and simple, much like the way of thinking that is promoted in Buddhism.

The lines that are used in the statues clothes are gentle and swaying. They don’t have any sudden movements associated with them. This steady and gentle movement tells me that the sculptor wanted to communicate the gentleness of the Buddha. The artist wanted to show the unassuming nature of Buddhism and of the Buddha himself. The lines are like the spiritual path that Bodhisattvas are on to trying to achieve the Buddha state of nirvana. The medium of the statue is also of significance, because it is carved into a statue. This shows the everlasting nature of samsara, which is the never-ending cycle of life, death and rebirth. The subject matter is certainly depicted in every one of these elements, as the artist carefully picked out each feature to communicate the gentle nature of the Buddha, and of the greater culture promoted by Buddhism.

Why is the artwork stylistically significant? How does it represent its regional, religious or cultural style?
The Early Standing Buddha Gandara reveals the meditative nature of the Buddha. The face is tranquil and detailed. The stance is also neutral and reveals a sense of trust for the surroundings, an acceptance of the elements of life, and an embrace of those features. In essence, the sculpture shows a sense of serenity and repose. The mudra hand posture shows that the Buddha is in a meditative pose, and that he has accomplished spiritual awakening. The sculpture communicates the cultural element related to spiritual awaking by showing that the Buddha-nature possesses a wisdom that is inherent in virtue and wisdom. The sculpture is able to capture the enlightened nature of the Buddha, and this represents the region’s way of thinking.

What stylistic influences can you identify?
Much of the various elements in style of the representations of the Buddha are largely influenced by Greek art. This includes the similarities in the toga-like wavy robe, which has a heavy swag that covers both of the shoulders. This is evidenced in the Early Standing Buddha Gandara, which is a perfect example of how the Greek influence has shown itself in this art. Furthermore, the hair that is depicted in the image is curly, and this shows the Mediterranean style, which is also presented in a topknot of the hair. This shows the inspiration and the influence of anthropomorphic and naturalistic sculptures that are depicted in Greece. Furthermore, like its Greek counterparts, the sculptures have full lips, an almond-shaped face and a straight nose. The finished product is significantly naturalistic, and it looks similar to the sculptures of the gods and emperors as depicted by the Greco-Romans. Both styles had a certain neutral quality to them.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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