This was the time when Hindu images began to spread in that region, and the woman on the buffalo immediately takes us to the myth of Durga Mahishasuramardini
. The form of the object, iconographic subject matter, ritual association and style, each reveal different, equally rich histories that point to the "confluence of cultures" in Gandhara.
There will be stone tools that date back 1.5mn years, bone implements, the only portrait of Emperor Ashoka ever excavated, a 6th century stone image of Lord Vishnu, a 4th century stone statue of Mahishasuramardini
, and an elegant 13-14th century Garuda in bronze.
It is an ivory altar piece of Durga Mahishasuramardini
, from Bengal, 1836, which fetched Rs 2.14 crore, compared with the pre- auction estimate of Rs 9 lakh to Rs 13.65 lakh.
Collections of this eminent Gallery include many paintings, sculptures, drawings, watercolors, prints, etc., depicting deities, concepts, legends, and topics of Hinduism, including Shiva-Parvati, Krishna-Radha, Circular dance of Krishna and the gopis, Dancing Ganesh with the Mahvidyas, Religious mendicant, Krishna's brother Balaram, Ardhnarishvara, Figure of Shani (from around 10th century), Vishnu and his avatars, Gandharva, Durga Mahishasuramardini
, Surya the sun god, Krishna as the divine cowherd, Krishna serenading Radha, 24 manifestations of Vishnu, Rama and Sita enthroned in Ayodhya, Lotus-clad Radha and Krishna, etc.
A large head once belonging to a probably life-size 7th or early 8th century clay statue of Durga Mahishasuramardini
was discovered in 1968 at Tepe Sardar monastery, southwest of Kabul (figure 4), opposite a former central standing Buddha of the bejewelled Fondukistan type, and fragments from a Mahishasuramardini
, with the legs of Durga resting on a buffalo head and her hand holding a vajra of the early "Gandhara" type (see pages 91, 92).
That was the ivory altarpiece of Durga Mahishasuramardini
featuring Kartik wearing a hat and Durga, Ganesh, Laxmi and Saraswati sporting European crowns.
The site is dated to the 3rd through 8th centuries, and is well known for its somewhat rare multi-religious use: the excavations led by Maurizio Taddei in the 1960s and '70s unearthed sculptures both of a Jewelled Buddha of Mahayana Buddhism as well as a Mahishasuramardini
of Brahmanical--more specifically Shaivite--Hinduism (figures 10-13).