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Head of Buddha (9th century)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Head of Buddha (9th century).

About the Work

Title : Head of Buddha
Year : 9th century
Medium : Volcanic stone; from central Java, likely from Borobudur
Dimensions : with stand: 59.7 x 24.1 x 31.8 cm (23 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 12 1/2 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Head of Buddha

According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :

“Certain features of this sculpture, such as the elegantly arched brows, straight nose, and full lips reveal the influence of Gupta prototypes. Sculptures from the Gupta Empire, which ruled a large portion of the Indian subcontinent from the fourth to sixth centuries, were known for their sensual features and a balanced sense of proportion and volume.”

This sculpture bears all resemblance typical to a representation of the Buddha. The dot at the third eye (between the eye brows), curly locks of hair, eyes closed in meditation – these are features commonly seen in depictions of the Englightened Buddha.

Other Details

Head of Buddha is housed in the Harvard Art Museums in Room 2460. It is part of the museum’s collection of East Arcade.


To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit Artwork in Focus.

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