Robert L. Brown, The Feminization of the Sarnath Gupta-Period Buddha Images
Groups of figures with Vesantasena (kneeling), stone, 2nd c., National Museum, New Delhi.
During the second half of the fifth century a style of Buddha image
developed at Sarnath (India) that showed radical changes from previous
images. The article focuses on three of these changes--the
downcast eyes, the absent genitals, and the slight body--to ask what
these changes meant and what were their possible sources. It
suggests that the stylistic characteristics can be interpreted as a
“feminization” of the image, not in terms of making the image
physically female, but in producing a less-masculine gender that is
specific to the image and that may relate to the female gender of
contemporary wives and mothers.