Silk Road Collection
Central Asia

Statue of Atlas

  • Central Asia
  • Gandhara, Pakistan
  • from the 2nd to the 3rd centuries AD
  • The Kushan Dynasty
  • grey schist
  • 35.2cm in height

On the plinth of stupas, there are many people depicted sitting down, standing on their knees side by side, and carrying the stupa on their shoulders. They are located in the Far West which appears in Greek mythology, and are drawn similarities to Atlas, the Titan who holds up the celestial heavens. To this day, their official names and roles are unknown. They wear short waistcloths with muscles bulging, and have a shield in their hand. They do not appear in Buddhist scriptures. However, as wings can be seen beneath their arms, it is suspected that they also lead deceased souls to enlightenment.