Maitreya or Possibly Avalokiteshvara,
ca. 5th centuryPakistan (ancient region of Gandhara, possibly Sahri-Bahlol)Schist;
Originally standing more than ten feet tall, this torso provides an idea of the zenith of late Gandharan art production in the fifth century. The sensitively modeled and anatomically accurate torso reflects one the final flourishes of Gandharan classicism. Such massive stone sculptures are extremely rare, in part because large flawless blocks of schist were difficult to obtain. Most monumental devotional imagery was produced in stucco, clay, or living rock. Some of the few comparable monumental schist sculptures come from a workshop active at the fifth-century site of Sahri-Bahlol, in the Peshawar area of Pakistan. The cult of bodhisattvas, venerated as compassionate saviors and guides in the quest for enlightenment, was an important part of Buddhist worship by this time.