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Reliquary(?) with Scenes from the Life of the Buddha

Date:
ca. 10th century
Culture:
India (Jammu & Kashmir) or Pakistan (ancient kingdom of Kashmir)
Medium:
Bone with traces of color and gold paint
Dimensions:
H. 5 3/8 in. (13.6 cm); W. 4 3/8 in. (11.1 cm); D. 2 9/16 in. (6.5 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift of The Kronos Collections, 1985
Accession Number:
1985.392.1
  • Description

    Three scenes are carved in this approximately triangular section of bone (probably elephant bone). The first shows the miraculous birth of Siddhartha—later to become the Buddha. He emerges from the right side of his mother, Queen Maya. Her raised hand grasps the branch of a tree, and her left arm is supported by her sister, Mahaprajapati.

    The second scene depicts the temptation of Siddhartha as he meditates at Bodhgaya immediately before attaining enlightenment and becoming the Buddha. His right hand touches the ground in a gesture that calls forth the earth goddess to testify that through merit accumulated in earlier existences he has the right to become the Buddha.

    The third scene is a rare representation of the crowned and jeweled Buddha. He sits on a lion throne in a crosslegged yogic posture. His preaching gesture symbolizes the setting into motion of the wheel of law, a reference to his first sermon at the Deer Park at Sarnath.

  • See also
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
38245:1

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