Winged Atlas Figure

Winged Atlas Figure

200s

Schist

Overall: 38.1 cm (15 in.)

Gift of Maxeen and John Flower in honor of Dr. Stanislaw Czuma 2011.136

Description

The Greco-Roman figure of Atlas fought on the side of the Titans against the Olympian gods, lost, and was condemned to support the spherical vault of the heavens on his shoulders for eternity. In Buddhist art of the Gandharan region during the time of heightened contact with the Mediterranean world, the figure of Atlas was adopted, but given wings so as to appear super-human. This figure has been conflated with the image of Hercules, who wears the skin of the Nemean lion, and relieved Atlas of his duties for a short time. Repeated images of composite Atlas-like figures surrounded the base of the monuments called stupas, which were solid domes, and can be understood as symbols for the sky, which would have appeared as though supported by rows of titanic figures.

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