Himalayan Art Resources

Region: Swat Valley Style Sculpture, Pakistan

Swat Style Masterworks

- Art History

- Iconography

- Religious Context


Video: Swat Valley Style Sculpture

Western Himalayan style sculpture is made up of three geographic regions, Swat, Kashmir and Western Tibet. The sculptural subjects, medium and artistic style of the three are all related and stylistically similar which makes them unique and differentiated from other Himalayan sculptural styles. All three of these regional styles overlap with each other, Swat with Kashmir and Kashmir with West Tibet. This overlap can easily lead to confusions in identifying the precise origin of sculptural objects from each region.

Swat Valley style sculpture refers to a region and a time period. The style includes primarily sculptural art of the far Western Himalayan regions inclusive of such areas as the Swat Valley, Gilgit and Baltistan from the 6th to the 9th centuries. The style is most identifiable by the lotus base, single or double. The iconographic subjects are limited and include primarily buddha figures, Avalokiteshvara and Maitreya. Figures less common are Manjushri, Maitreya, Vajrapani, Prajnaparamita, Tara and Vairochana. A number of objects are inscribed with donor and date. The inscribed sculpture help place the uninscribed sculpture within a chronology of works based on stylistic and iconographic elements.

Characteristics:
- Lotus base, large petals, unadorned, single or double
- Un-gilded
- Iconography: Buddha, Lokeshvara, others
- Small donor figures
- Inscriptions
- Copper alloy

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Jeff Watt [updated 6-2016, 12-2020]