Stone palettes of this type are one of the earliest finds of Gandharan sculpture, having been produced since the 2nd century BC, under the Indo-Greek and Indo-Parthian kingdoms. Such small dishes were usually carved in schist, serpentine or steatite, and have been recovered especially in domestic contexts, suggesting their use in everyday life as toilet and cosmetic trays. The majority of such stone trays were decorated with images inspired by Hellenistic, Roman and Parthian art. Gandharan artists reinterpreted episodes from Classical myths, in a way that the scenes depicted might have been understood in terms of local Buddhist iconography. This created a unique syncretism between Classical and Buddhist elements. The Indo-Parthian character of the scene is enlightened by the frontal representations of the male figure, while the theme of banquets derives directly from Classical and Hellenistic art. The Urna, the dot placed on the forehead between the eyes of the Bodhisattva, derives also from Buddhist art. The iconography related to banquets and drinking contexts suggest that such vessel might have been intended for ritual offerings of wine.
To discover more about Gandharan Art, please visit our relevant blog post: Gandharan Art: A Fusion of Hellenistic and Buddhist Styles.