This cosmetic plate depicting a tutelary couple, Hariti and Panchika, is an example of fusion of elements belonging to Iranian and Indian culture in one work of art from Gandhara. Iranian goddess of fortune Ardoksho was usually depicted seated with a long palm leaf in one hand and a flower in another on a throne flanked by lions. This expression is used here to depict Hariti. However, elephants with extended trunks visible on both sides of her head are characteristic for the image of the Indian goddess of prosperity, Sri Lakshmi, on whom they pour water. Large size earrings are also a motif bringing on mind Indian adornments.
Panchika wears garment and boots typical for the Kushans of Iranian origin. However, either a lion on the top of the spear held in his left hand or a prominent naked belly belong to the Indian way of depiction. It is possible that in his missing right hand he held an elongated purse like Kubera. His elaborated headdress is also in Indian style.
In a purpose of spreading Buddhism countless scenes from the Buddha’s life were carved in schist to be mounted along the walls of stupas where people came to worship the Buddha and pray. After conquering Bactria by Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) influence of the Western culture upon the Gandharan early Buddhist art resulted in first images of the Buddha in a human shape, because up till then he was depicted by symbols like Buddhapada, a turban, a pillow from the throne, etc., and numerous Buddha and Bodhisattva figures were sculpted. However, Buddhist subjects are extremely rare at the cosmetic plates which are decorated with themes from the cultures that influenced Gandharan art. Especially numerous are personages and beasts from the Greek mythology. There is a theory that so called “cosmetic plates” were created for other but cosmetic purposes. This cosmetic plate was once gilt, and traces of gold foil remain on its surface.
Cosmetic plate, Gandhara, 3rd century A.D., schist, D: 11 cm

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