Art/ Collection/ Art Object

"Dharmachakrastambha'" (Buddhist Wheel of the Law Pillar) Relief

2nd–3rd century
India (probably Nagarjunakonda, Andhra Pradesh)
H. 15 1/2 in. (39.4 cm); W. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm); D. 3 3/8 in. (8.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Fletcher and Rogers Funds, by exchange, 2008
Accession Number:
Not on view
This relief shows a Buddhist Wheel of the Law (Dharmachakra) supported by two seated lions atop a pillar (stambha). The Wheel of the Law—an iconic representation of Buddhist teachings (dharma)—is the most important of Buddhist symbols. It serves to evoke the Buddha's First Sermon in the forest at Sarnath ("when he turned the word-wheel") and as a generic symbol of all his teachings. This relief would have formed part of the adornment of a Buddhist stupa, as depicted in the reliefs from Amaravati on display adjacently.
[ Spink & Son Ltd. , London, 1963, Catalogue of an Exhibition of Art from India and Thailand, cat. no. 5]; private collection , New York (1963–2008; to Christie's) ; sale, Christie's, New York , September 16, 2008, lot 3; to MMA
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