Figure of an atlantes, schist, Kabul river valley, 50BC-150 AD.
Height: 22 cm, Width: 20 cm
This sculpture was given by Lt. Col. R. de Villamil, who wrote that 'it was dug out of a tope [stupa] near Jellalabad in the Khyber Pass' by an officer in the Royal Engineers, whose name has not been recorded as 'he had no right to stick to it' in about 1878 ( presumably during the Second Anglo-Afghan War, 1878-79, during the winter of which the victorious British under Sir Sam Browne camped safely in Jalalabad). Elizabeth Errington (1987, p. 774) suggests that this piece may have come, not from this region, but the site at Jamalgarhi in the Punjab. The site was excavated in 1873 and on A. Cunningham's suggestion the finds were inscribed with a letter 'J'. Many of these finds were later sent to the B.M. including a crouching winged figure illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, The Crossroads of Asia, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1992, No. 125, p.122. It is suggested in the catalogue by Sir John Boardman that pieces of this type may have served 'as supports, in reliefs or along the base of stupas' - this also being the commonest pose, which may have supported a moulding or entablature. The B.M. piece bears stylistic comparison with the V&A sculpture, which also bears an inscribed 'J'.
A damaged sculpture of a seated man, with his right knee raised and the left leg crossed in front of him. His hands rest on his right foot and just below his left knee. He has a muscular body and he has a beard and curly hair, all of which suggest some classical influence. He wears a short loin cloth twisted over on the left side at his waist and boots. There are fragmentary remains above his shoulders of a pair of wings which are now lost.