Sunday, 27 September 2020

Sawn off Stupa Bit for sale in Chicago

Unprovenanced piece of Gandharan sculpture for sale, described as having "earthen encrustation". It's being offered by the same Chicago dealer Harlan J. Berk who announced a while ago that he wants to "beat archaeologists" … and not surprising, seeing as he (ostensibly just a "coin dealer") has a LOT of stuff any archaeologist and officials would like to ask a number of questions about. Mostly about the documentation of this assemblage of commodities from all over the world. 

This schisty thing is here. Here's the desccription: 

ca. 2nd-3rd Century AD. A nice example of a Gandharan panel fragment modeled in grey micaceous schist. The piece has two main registers, the lower register depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha, with the upper register depicting an architectural panel from a stupa. The piece is a wonderful combination of Asian and Classical influences, mainly in the modeling of the figures and the Corinthian columns in the top register. Earthen encrustation. Mounted. H. 8 3/4" W. 5 7/8" (22.2 cm x 15 cm) H. 10 1/4" with mount.

So it's actually quite titchy. That's probably why the people that portableised it did not just cut the figures off. Above all we can see that this "earthen encrustation" is nothing of the sort. It's a wash (calcite? Gypsum?) and more importantly evenly covers the piece from all sides, no variation where it'd have been exposed/sheltered. Now another gallery that has a lot of Gandhara is Bob Dodge's "Artemis" Galleries in suburban Boulder, Colorado, and we can see that many of those that he's sold recently have similar surfaces. Are these two dealers using the same source? At what stage is the wash applied and why? Note sawmarks on right side.

Now I think that before Mr Berk tries to beat me, I'd like to ask him to show me this "model[l]ing" he is trying to convince his buyers is worth the 2467.50 US$ that he wants for this small piece of architectural salvage.

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