Primary Source

Terracotta Smiling Children Heads [Object]


These two terracotta heads of smiling children stem from excavations at Bulandi Bagh in Patna, India. The molded figures, about 10 cm. (4 in.) high, are rare and significant, both because of their naturalistic facial expressions and technical artistry. Among the figurines and other sculptures from the site are several smiling boy and girl statues with elaborate headdresses, identified by art historians as such because they clearly show the physiognomy of children. Other statues include dancing figurines with elaborate headdresses, animal figurines, and other artistically excellent pieces. The heads were produced from molds, a technique that reflects Hellenistic influence stemming from the invasion of Alexander the Great. Art historians question whether the molds were imported or whether the artisans were exposed to prototypes, to what extent Indian court artisans who produced these pieces fused foreign influences with unique Indian elements. They have been dated to the 3rd century B.C.E., during the Mauryan Period. The location is part of the modern city of Patna, containing the site of the ancient city of Pataliputra.


Left: Smiling Child Head Molded, Patna Museum, Maurya, C.250 B.C., Indian Terracottas-Brooklyn Museum of Art. Available online: Indira Ghandhi National Center for the Arts, (accessed August 1, 2009). Right: Head of a Boy from Bulandibagh (Patna), Bihar c.250 B.C.E., Mauryan, Cleveland Museum of Art, accession number: 1986.72 n2001070452. Images Copyright © The Cleveland Museum of Art 2004. Available online: The Cleveland Museum of Art, (accessed August 1, 2009).

How to Cite This Source

"Terracotta Smiling Children Heads [Object]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #313, (accessed July 21, 2019). Annotated by Susan Douglass