Niche with the Seated Bodhisattva Shakyamuni Flanked by Devotees and an Elephant
ca. 4th–5th century
H. 16 9/16 in. (42 cm); W. 18 1/4 in. (46.4 cm); D. 10 in. (25.4 cm)
Purchase, Walter Burke Gift, and Anonymous Gift, Rogers Fund, and Gift of George D. Pratt, by exchange, 2005
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 236
The lunette embellished the high base of a Buddhist stupa (relic mound) and would have been viewed from below during ritual circumnambulation. Shakyamuni is shown as a bodhisattva wearing the jeweled turban and textiles of a prince. The naturalistic anatomy and the complex classical treatment of interacting devotees seem remarkable given that the relief was sculpted about the fifth century—long after classical traditions in the West had declined.